from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Henderson
County, Illinois. Circuit No. 17-L-3, Honorable Scott
Shipplett, Judge, Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court with
opinion. Justices O'Brien and Wright concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Plaintiff, Tessa Jones, was injured in an all-terrain
vehicle (ATV) accident that occurred on a levee in Henderson
County. She filed a negligence complaint against Maria Steck,
who was driving the ATV, and defendants William E. Steck and
George F. Steck, who owned and maintained the levee on which
the accident occurred. Defendants moved for summary judgment,
claiming, among other things, that section 11-1427(g) of the
Illinois Vehicle Code (ATV Statute) (625 ILCS 5/11-1427(g)
(West 2014)) precluded premise liability. The trial court
granted defendants' motion, finding that the ATV Statute
applied, and Tessa appeals. We affirm.
3 The facts in this case are not disputed. William and George
Steck are brothers who own and operate approximately 2000
acres of farmland together with their siblings. The farmland has
been divided into multiple plots, and some are owned by
individual family members. William and his family live in a
house on one of the plots that he and his wife own. Three
contiguous tracts of farmland owned by the Steck siblings lie
to the west of William's house. On the other side of
those tracts is a 10-acre elevated strip of land that was
formerly owned by a railroad company. The railroad tracks
were removed years ago, and the land is now used as a levee
to prevent the Stecks' cropland from flooding. The levee
is owned and maintained by William and George.
4 In July 2014, a portion of the levee washed out. William
and George did not repair the damage because they did not
frequently use the levee. After several months, vegetation
grew over the area, making it difficult to see the breach.
5 On March 13, 2015, William's daughter, Maria, who was
home from college for spring break, went to dinner with Tessa
and some other friends. They all returned to the farm later
that evening and decided to take a ride around the property.
Maria and Tessa jumped in an ATV owned by George. Maria was
the driver, and Tessa was the passenger. Maria drove through
the field, across a road, and up onto the levee. As she
proceeded along the top of the levee, she drove into the
washout and crashed, injuring herself and Tessa.
6 Tessa filed a complaint against Maria for negligent
operation of the ATV. The complaint also included two counts
against William (count II) and George (count III) for failing
to maintain the levee in a safe condition and failing to
notify anyone about the breach.
7 In her deposition, Maria stated that she believed she had
permission to travel on all parts of the farm. She
acknowledged that she did not tell anyone she was taking the
ATV and that no one gave her express permission to use the
ATV that evening.
8 William and George moved for summary judgment. They argued
that, under the ATV Statute, they did not owe Tessa a duty to
maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for use
by an ATV. Alternatively, they maintained that summary
judgment was appropriate because the breach in the levee was
an open and obvious condition. The trial court granted
defendants' motion, finding that the ATV Statute
precluded liability and dismissed counts II and III of
10 On appeal, Tessa argues that summary judgment was
inappropriate because her premise liability claims against
William and George are not barred by the ATV Statute.
11 The Premises Liability Act (Act) (740 ILCS 130/1 et
seq. (West 2014)) imposes a duty on property owners to
maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition.
Section 2 of the Act states that "[t]he duty owed to
such entrants is that of reasonable care under the