Krywin v. The Chicago Transit Authority
By Jean M. Prendergast, Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, P.C
Today, in a 5-2 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court in Krywin v. The Chicago Transit Authority, held that a common carrier’s duty to provide passengers with a safe place to alight must yield to the natural accumulation rule. Under that rule, a landowner has no duty to remove natural accumulations of ice, snow or water. The plaintiff-passenger had fallen as she exited a train onto a slippery CTA platform. The court affirmed the appellate court and reversed the passenger’s nearly $400,000 verdict.
The court also held that the CTA had no duty to identify a safer place to exit the train. The court reasoned that the passenger failed to meet her burden to prove the feasibility of requiring the CTA to discharge all passengers safely during inclement conditions. The court took judicial notice of the magnitude of the CTA’s operations and observed that “it would be impractical to place a burden on the CTA to evaluate its train platforms” every time a train enters a station.
Justice Freeman, joined by Justice Kilbride, dissented, pointing out that the majority’s holding disregarded the Local Government and Governmental Employees’ Tort Immunity Act (“Act”), which codified the natural accumulation rule, but also specifically excluded the CTA from the Act’s protection. In addition, the dissent maintained that the majority decision is inconsistent with the court’s prior adoption of the principles stated in Section 343 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which recognized that landowners are in a superior position to protect their invitees.