Court Addresses Illinois Voluntary Undertaking Doctrine in Recent Slip-and-Fall Case

In Illinois, the Fourth District Court recently issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal of a trial court’s judgment ruling involving the voluntary undertaking doctrine. The plaintiff, the decedent’s father, filed a lawsuit against his son’s employer following a traumatic brain injury his son suffered after leaving the defendant’s bar. The decedent was invited to an event at the defendant’s bar and was ejected from the premises after becoming increasingly intoxicated. As the decedent left the premises, he fell and suffered fatal injuries from a traumatic brain injury. Amongst, other claims, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was liable because he owed him a duty of care under Illinois’ voluntary undertaking theory.

In response to the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant filed a demand requesting detailed information including the specific information regarding the time and location of the fall, the exact manner of the injury, how the injury resulted in the death, and the time and location of the decedent’s death. The court denied the defendant’s motion but ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

On appeal, the court parsed out Illinois’ voluntary undertaking doctrine. Under the doctrine, courts recognize an affirmative duty of care when a plaintiff proves that the other party took a voluntary undertaking. For example, this applies when a defendant undertook a duty to assist and did so with negligence. The law applies when a party renders services for the protection of another, gratuitously or for consideration, will be liable for physical harm resulting from their failure to exercise reasonable care. The doctrine limits the defendant’s liability to the extent of their undertaking.

In this case, the plaintiff argued that the defendant undertook a duty when he invited him to the employer-sponsored event, provided alcohol, stopped serving the plaintiff, and ejected him from the premises. Further, the plaintiff contends that by ejecting the victim, the defendant put him in a worse situation leading to the fall and traumatic brain injury. In this case, the court found that the defendant’s action in cutting off service and ejecting the victim does not rise to a voluntary undertaking. The court reasoned that the decedent was conscious when he left, and the defendant’s actions did not put him in peril or a worse situation. Moreover, ejecting a visibly intoxicated individual from the premises was a routine occurrence. Therefore, the plaintiff did not establish liability under the voluntary undertaking doctrine.

Have You Suffered Injuries in an Illinois Accident?

If you have suffered injuries in an accident, contact the Chicago injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. The attorneys at our law firm have a long history of successfully representing Illinois injury victims in their claims for damages. We provide our clients with respect, compassion, and zealous advocacy. Our firm handles injury cases involving Chicago slip-and-falls and injuries related to defective products, motor vehicle accidents, nursing home abuse and negligence, and more. Illinois accident cases are rarely straightforward, and we work to help our clients pursue the compensation they are entitled to. Contact our office at 312-924-7575, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

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