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Elliott v. Williams

March 03, 2004

[5] HEDY ELLIOTT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CARL WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT (TITAN SECURITY SERVICES, INC., DRAPER AND KRAMER, INC., FERDINAND KRAMER, SELF-TRUSTEE UNDER TRUST AGREEMENT DATED 4/26/83, GENERAL PARTNERS OF LAKE MEADOWS PHASE I LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, AN ILLINOIS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, LAKE MEADOWS PHASE II LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, AN ILLINOIS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, LAKE MEADOWS PHASE III LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, AN ILLINOIS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, AND LAKE MEADOWS ASSOCIATES, AN ILLINOIS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, LAKE MEADOWS PHASE I LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, AN ILLINOIS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, LAKE MEADOWS PHASE II LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, AN ILLINOIS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, LAKE MEADOWS PHASE III LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, AND LAKE MEADOWS ASSOCIATES, AN ILLINOIS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES).



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 98 L 2919 Honorable Mary A. Mulhern, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hall

[8]  The plaintiff, Hedy Elliott, appeals from orders of the circuit court of Cook County granting summary judgment to defendants Titan Security Service, Inc. (Titan), and Draper & Kramer, Inc., and denying her motion for leave to file an amended complaint.

[9]  On appeal, the plaintiff contends that the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to Titan because genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Titan's conduct in hiring defendant Carl Williams was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries. She further contends that the circuit court erred in denying her motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Finally, the plaintiff submits that if the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to Titan, then the summary judgment in favor of Draper & Kramer must also be reversed. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.

[10]   Titan was hired by Draper & Kramer to provide security at the Lake Meadows Apartments. On March 12, 1996, while staying at the Lake Meadows Apartments, the plaintiff was sexually assaulted by Carl Williams, a security guard employed by Titan.

[11]   On March 11, 1998, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendants and Carl Williams. *fn1 The complaint, which was subsequently amended on March 23, 2000, *fn2 alleged that Titan was guilty of negligence in the hiring of Mr. Williams in that Titan, inter alia, failed to conduct a background check which would have revealed Mr. Williams's criminal background. The complaint further alleged that Draper & Kramer was negligent in its hiring and retention of Titan based on Titan's hiring of unfit security guards.

[12]   On January 25, 2001, Titan filed a motion for summary judgment. Titan relied, inter alia, on the following evidence in support of its motion.

[13]   In her deposition, the plaintiff testified that on March 11, 1996, she was staying with a friend at the Lake Meadows Apartments. Around 5:30 p.m., the plaintiff left the apartment to go shopping with another friend. She returned from shopping at around 9:30 p.m. She had packages in her hands and a soda. She was able to open the outer door to the building but was struggling trying to open the inner door when a security guard opened it for her. While the plaintiff was waiting for the elevator, the security guard and she had a brief conversation during which the plaintiff mentioned the name of the person with whom she was staying.

[14]   When the elevator arrived, the security guard volunteered to help the plaintiff take her packages up to the apartment where she was staying. While in the elevator, the security guard told the plaintiff that his name was "Carl." In the course of their conversation, the plaintiff gave Carl her telephone number in Peoria and mentioned that she could get concert tickets for him. As the plaintiff approached the apartment, Carl was holding the elevator and watching her.

[15]   At around 10:30 p.m., Carl knocked on the apartment door. When the plaintiff opened the door, he told her he was coming off duty and asked her to join him for a drink. The plaintiff declined the invitation telling him that she was going out with friends.

[16]   The plaintiff further testified that a male friend and a friend of his stopped over to see her, but she did not recall if she left the apartment to admit them to the apartment. They left about 11:45 p.m.

[17]   Sometime between 11:45 p.m. and 2 a.m, Carl called her and asked if he could come up to the apartment. *fn3 She told him no. He called a second time and told her he had a gift for her and could he bring it up to her. After first declining, the plaintiff agreed to allow Carl to bring the gift to the apartment door. A few minutes later, Carl knocked on the door, and the plaintiff, knowing it was Carl, opened the door to the apartment. The plaintiff acknowledged that, initially, she had told the police that she opened the door because she thought it was her friend returning to the apartment. Carl was dressed in street clothes but was wearing the hat he wore as part of his security uniform.

[18]   It is undisputed that Carl Williams then assaulted the plaintiff. He was subsequently arrested and following a bench trial, convicted of the assault.

[19]   On June 7, 2001, prior to a hearing on Titan's motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file her second amended complaint. The proposed second amended complaint added a claim of respondeat superior against Titan, Mr. Williams and an unknown security guard based on the conduct of the unknown security guard whom the plaintiff alleged had admitted Mr. Williams into the apartment building. A claim for breach of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 1993 (225 ILCS 446/1 et seq. (West 1996)) against Titan and a claim of reckless conduct against Titan were also added to the second amended complaint.

[20]   On June 26, 2001, the circuit court granted Titan's summary judgment motion. On July 6, 2001, Draper & Kramer ...


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