Hurt Kid Not Pilsenís Problem
by Ron Davis
A monetary settlement for the father of a child injured at a Chicago-area shopping center now seems highly unlikely.
Thatís because of a recent Illinois appellate court ruling in the case. The courtís judges have decided that the owners of the shopping center--Pilsen Park--could not be faulted for the childís injury.
The child, whose father is a tenant of Pilsen Park, was injured after he wandered away from a video-games arcade located near the fatherís business. He spotted an open door that led from the shopping centerís retail area to a second-floor storage room, where he found a conveyor system. He then apparently turned on the conveyor and became entangled in the belt, sustaining a broken arm, strains to his back and shoulder, and a severe head injury.
The childís father, in his subsequent lawsuit, claimed that the shopping center owners were negligent by failing to supervise the storage room and prevent harm from anyone who visited there.
The shopping centerís owners responded that a previous Pilsen Park tenant had acquired and installed the conveyor system and that they had no responsibility for use of the belt nor for maintaining the second-floor storage area.
An Illinois judge decided that the child was a trespasser at the time of the accident and that the shopping centerís owners owed no duty to the father for supervising his childís conduct. The childís father appealed, citing the storage-room door that was left open and the lack of guards and safety shut-off switches on the conveyor system.
The Illinois appellate court, in its ruling, explained, "The childís father has failed to articulate any facts that indicate that Pilsen Park shopping center knew or should have known that children frequented the second-floor storage room of the mall or operated the conveyor belt.... Further, there is no testimony or evidence that the shopping center owners had any knowledge that a child has ever turned on the conveyor belt or that any child knew that the belt was located in the storage room. (Luu v. Kim, 752 N.E.2d 547 [Ill.App. 1 Dist. 2001])
Decision: July 2001
Published: October 2001