Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal with Prejudice of Wrongful Death Action Based on Voluntary Undertaking Theory

In some personal injury accidents, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault and whether multiple parties bear responsibility for the devastating outcome. Life is complicated and many accidents often reflect this in the number of parties that are involved in the incident and who may bear liability. Just because a party was involved in an accident at some point does not mean he or she can be held responsible for the outcome. As seasoned Chicago wrongful death lawyers, we are prepared to help you ensure that you hold each potential responsible party accountable for the losses that you’ve sustained.

Recently, the Illinois Court of Appeal considered a claim in which liability was disputed for the death of an individual due to a traumatic brain injury. the decedent was consuming alcoholic beverages at an event sponsored by his employer. The employer provided free alcoholic beverages and the decedent consumed several until he became intoxicated. In the early morning hours, the employer stopped serving the defendant. He later left the premises and fell suffering a traumatic brain injury that ultimately caused his death.

His father, acting as the independent administrator of his son’s estate and as an individual, brought a claim against the employer alleging that it was responsible for his son’s death. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss and the trial court granted it. The father refiled the complaint and alleged negligence under a voluntary undertaking negligence theory. The complaint alleged that the defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent because it voluntarily undertook that duty when it ejected the intoxicated decedent from the bar.

The defendant filed another motion to dismiss on the grounds that the complaint did not plead enough facts to state a cause of action and that the defendant’s decision to eject the plaintiff from the bar was not the proximate cause of his death. The court held a hearing on the motion and ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice, which means the plaintiff could not file the action again.

The plaintiff appealed and the reviewing court ultimately affirmed the lower court’s judgment. The complaint failed to allege facts showing that the defendant undertook responsibility for the defendant and instead the facts suggested that the defendant was ejecting an intoxicated person in a routine matter. Dismissal with prejudice was warranted under these facts because during the hearing the plaintiff indicated that he did not have additional facts to add to further establish that the defendant voluntarily undertook responsibility for the decedent.

If you or someone you love suffered an injury or unfortunately lost his or her life in a fatal accident, then you may be entitled to compensation. The legal system can be complex and difficult to navigate especially if you are grieving and coping with the stress of the accident. At Therman Law Offices, we are ready to assist you with exploring your legal rights and securing the compensation that you deserve. We provide a free consultation to help you identify your options and discuss your situation. Call us today at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.