Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division
KELLY WINSTON, Individually and as Mother and Next Best Friend of Kayla Winston and Kyla Winston, Plaintiff-Appellant,
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, ASA MYERS, MELISSA BURCHETT, THE ESTATE OF GLENN JONES, and THE ESTATE OF DALILA SMITH, Defendants. The City of Chicago, Asa Myers, and Melissa Burchett, Defendants-Appellees.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 15 L 10981.
Honorable Kathy M. Flanagan Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Daniel E. Goodman and Terry M.
Lachcik, both of Rosemont, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellee: Mark A. Flessner, Corporation
Counsel, of Chicago (Benna Ruth Solomon, Myriam Zreczny
Kasper, and Sara K. Hornstra, Assistant Corporation Counsel,
of counsel), for appellees.
JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Delort and Justice Cunningham
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 This is an appeal from the partial disposition of a
personal injury action by plaintiff, Kelly Winston,
individually and as mother and next friend of Kayla and Kyla
Winston (plaintiffs or the Winstons), against defendants, the
City of Chicago (City), Asa Myers, and Melissa Burchett (City
police officers or City officers), who we shall refer to
collectively as the City defendants. The action arose from a
collision between the vehicle occupied by the Winstons and a
vehicle driven by Glenn Jones and owned by Dalila Smith as
the City police officers were pursuing that vehicle.
Plaintiffs also sued the estates of Jones and Smith, which we
shall refer to collectively as the estate defendants. The
circuit court granted the City defendants' motion for
summary judgment, and plaintiffs contend on appeal that
summary judgment for the City defendants was erroneous. For
the reasons stated below, we reverse the summary judgment and
remand for further proceedings.
2 I. JURISDICTION
3 The circuit court granted summary judgment for the City
defendants on March 19, 2018, in an order finding that there
was no just reason to delay appeal. Plaintiffs timely filed a
motion for reconsideration on April 18, 2018, which the court
denied on June 4, 2018. Plaintiffs timely filed their notice
of appeal on July 2, 2018. Accordingly, this court has
jurisdiction pursuant to article VI, section 6, of the
Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 6),
and Illinois Supreme Court Rules 303(a)(1) (eff. July 1,
2017) and 304(a) (eff. Mar. 8, 2016).
4 II. BACKGROUND
5 Plaintiffs filed their initial complaint in October 2015
and amended it in July 2016 and August 2016. Various counts
of the complaint as amended were directed against the City
defendants, while other counts were directed against the
estates of Jones and Smith. We are concerned here with the
counts directed against the City defendants.
6 Plaintiffs alleged that, on April 10, 2014, the vehicle
they occupied was struck by Smith's vehicle as Jones was
driving it with Smith's permission and as the City
officers were pursuing it for fleeing a traffic stop for
driving without a front license plate. Specifically,
plaintiffs alleged that the City officers followed the Smith
vehicle after noticing the missing front plate until they
tried to curb it, whereupon "Jones drove off at a very
high rate of speed" with the City officers pursuing for
at least four blocks "at an extremely high rate of
speed" through a residential area on a two-lane street
posted for no more than 30 miles per hour while "Jones
ignored several traffic devices" until he failed to stop
for a red light and struck the Winstons' vehicle.
Plaintiffs alleged that the City officers "knew that
Jones had not committed a felony and that his actions did not
pose a significant threat of death or serious physical injury
to the officers or others." Plaintiffs alleged that the
City and its employees, including the City officers, had a
duty to refrain from willful and wanton conduct that would
endanger the safety of persons such as plaintiffs and that
the City defendants breached that duty by (a) pursuing Jones
at a high rate of speed for a minor traffic violation, (b)
failing to reduce speed or end the chase after Jones ignored
several traffic control devices, and (c) failing to reduce
speed or end the chase despite the risk that the vehicle
driven by Jones would collide with another vehicle such as
the Winstons' vehicle. Each of the Winstons was alleged
to have "serious bodily injury" caused by the
collision and proximately caused by the City defendants'
willful and wanton conduct.
7 In their answer, the City defendants admitted that the City
officers acted within the scope of their employment during
the incident and that they tried to curb the vehicle Jones
was driving for a traffic stop but otherwise denied the
substantive allegations against the City defendants.
8 The City defendants raised five affirmative defenses, all
asserting that a local public entity is not liable for an
injury resulting from an act or omission of a public employee
who is immune or not liable. The first defense was that the
City police officers were enforcing the law before and during
the incident, and by statute, public employees are not liable
for negligence in enforcing the law. The second was that the
City police officers were acting within the scope of their
employment before and during the incident, that "the
fleeing offender caused the injuries" at issue, and
that, by statute, a public employee acting within the scope
of employment is not liable for an injury caused by the act
or omission of another person. The third was that public
employees, such as the City police officers acting within the
scope of their employment, are immune by statute from
liability for failure to provide adequate police services
(here, apprehending Jones before and during the incident).
The fourth was that public employees, such as the City police
officers acting within the scope of their employment, are
immune by statute from liability for attempting to enforce
the law and failing to do so successfully. The fifth was that
public employees, such as the City police officers acting
within the scope of their employment, are immune by statute
from liability for failing to successfully effect an arrest.
9 The City defendants also raised a counterclaim for
contribution against the estate of Jones, alleging his
negligence in causing the incident.
10 Plaintiffs answered the City defendants' affirmative
defenses, admitting that the City officers were acting within
the scope of their employment and enforcing the law before
and during the incident but denying the statutory immunities
alleged in all five affirmative defenses.
11 In their answer, the estate defendants denied, or demanded
strict proof of, the substantive allegations against Jones
and Smith. They did not raise any affirmative defenses.
12 The City defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in
October 2017, arguing that the City officers performed a
traffic stop of the vehicle owned by Smith and driven by
Jones because it had a missing front license plate. Jones
drove away from the traffic stop at high speed. The officers
"initially followed, but then ceased actively attempting
to apprehend Jones when he accelerated to a dangerous
speed." The officers used their emergency lights and
siren, and they decided to cease pursuit when their vehicle
reached about 55 miles per hour and the pursued vehicle was
going about 70 to 80 miles per hour. Three blocks after the
stop, while the officers were "in the process of ending
their pursuit, Jones ran a red light and collided with the
Winstons' vehicle. The entire incident from the traffic
stop to the collision took about 20 seconds. The ...