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City Parking Lot Held Part of Recreation Facility for Purposes of Tort Immunity
Description Patron of City of Chicago football stadium suffered injuries from tripping over concrete block placed on dimly lit walkway in parking lot. Illinois supreme court held that Tort Immunity Act extends to the parking lot, so there is no liability for negligent maintenance of parking lot.
Topic Torts
Key Words Governmental Immunity, Negligence
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Sylvester was walking across a poorly lit City of Chicago parking lot toward Soldier Field, to attend a Monday night Chicago Bears football game, when she tripped over a concrete parking abutment (a "car stop") that was improperly placed on a walkway in the parking lot. She sued for negligence for the injuries she suffered. The City admits the car stop was in an improper location, but offered an affirmative defense: that it was not liable for the negligence alleged because the public property was used for recreational purposes.
Decision Reversing the judgments of the trial and appellate courts, the high court held that the City is entitled to immunity. The parking lot is an extension of Soldier Field, so it is part of a city recreation facility. The Tort Immunity Act "provides that a local public entity shall not be liable for injury occurring on public property unless it is proven that the local public entity has ... notice of the injury causing condition." The city has a regular inspection program for the parking lot, but was unaware that the car stop had ended up on a walkway, so it did not have notice of the possible danger and cannot be held liable for negligence.
Citation Sylvester v. Chicago Park District, 1997 WL 753817 (Sup. Ct., Ill.)
or
698 N.E.2d 1119 (Sup. Ct., Ill., 1998)

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