April 21, 2006
Case Law Development: Police Liability for Failure to Respond to Domestic Violence Calls
The Illinois Supreme Court held that local police agencies' immunity from lawsuits does not apply when they fail to intervene in domestic violence cases. Justices decreed that the estate of a Chicago woman may sue police for allegedly ignoring her April 2002 call for help when her estranged husband entered her home with a gun. Witnesses saw two police officers outside the residence in their car, but they drove away without going inside. Ronyale White was shot to death minutes later.
In a separate opinion, however, the court upheld the decades-old tort immunity law, which bars lawsuits against local governments to prevent a flood of litigation that would overburden taxpayers. The court ruled that the estate of Doris Hays may not sue authorities in Rock Island and Henry counties after a witness reported Hays drove off a highway into a ditch but no one investigated. Hays' body was found three days later near her car at the accident scene.
by John O'Connor, Belleview News Democrat (last visited April 21, 2006 bgf)
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