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Illinois justices OK lawsuit against city

By Chris Rizo | Oct 2, 2008

Thomas Kilbride

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)-The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a mother who lost her son to a drug overdose can sue the city over its paramedics.

Ruling that the city has limited immunity from liability in the case, the high court said Jo Ann Abruzzo can proceed with her lawsuit against the city of Park Ridge.

Abruzzo claims when paramedics responded to a call that her 15-year-old son Joseph Furio was found unconscious, they didn't examine the boy or provide treatment.

She claims her son died as a result of the city's willful and wanton misconduct -- something she will have to prove in Cook County Circuit Court.

Furio died in 2004 of cocaine and opiate intoxication, court papers say.

The city argued the claim should not move forward, citing the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, which shields local public entities and their employees from liability in connection with tort claims.

Specifically, the law protects local governments and its officials from claims arising from the "failure to make a physical or mental examination, or to make an adequate physical or mental examination of any person for the purpose of determining whether such person has a disease or physical or mental condition that would constitute a hazard to the health or safety of himself or others."

Thursday's decision comes after two lower courts ruled that the city could not be sued because it had immunity.

The high court said the Tort Immunity Act does not protect the city from liability in the case.

"Given our conclusion that the Tort Immunity Act does not govern here, we must reverse the dismissal of the complaint and remand the matter for further proceedings," Justice Thomas Kilbride wrote for the court.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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