Can a Negligence Suit Be Filed If An Individual Is Injured In a Recreational Facility ?
In Sylvester v. Chicago Park District, 179 Ill. 2d 500, 508, 689 N.E.2d 1119, 228 Ill. Dec. 698 (1997), the plaintiff was injured when she tripped over a concrete parking abutment (car stop) on a walkway adjacent to Soldier Field's south parking lot while walking to a Chicago Bears football game. Sylvester, 179 Ill. 2d at 502. the plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the Chicago Park District, which moved to dismiss based on section 3--106. Sylvester, 179 Ill. 2d at 501.
The trial court denied the motion, reasoning that the parking lot itself was not a recreational facility. Sylvester, 179 Ill. 2d at 504.
Following a bench trial, the trial court found in favor of the plaintiff and the appellate court affirmed. Sylvester, 179 Ill. 2d at 504, 505.
Our supreme court reversed, holding that section 3--106 operated to bar the plaintiff's claim and that the trial court erred by "narrowly focusing on only whether the parking lot by itself was being used for recreational purposes." Sylvester, 179 Ill. 2d at 509-10.
Our supreme court reasoned:
"The evidence shows that plaintiff's fall occurred on the walkway of a Park District parking lot serving Soldier Field.
The Park District intended for and permitted football fans to park in the lots adjacent to Soldier Field and use the walkways to gain access to the stadium.
In addition, section 3--106 may apply to facilities or structures that increase the usefulness of public property intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes.
These facilities or st ructures need not be recreational in character for section 3--106 to apply.
Although the walkways and parking lots adjacent to Soldier Field may not be primarily recreational, Soldier Field itself is certainly recreational and these facilities increase its usefulness.
Taken as a whole, we find that Soldier Field and its adjacent walkways and parking lots are intended or permitted to be used for recreational purposes." Sylvester, 179 Ill. 2d at 508.
The court concluded that "an examination of the property as a whole indicates that the parking lot in which plaintiff fell was an integral part of the Soldier Field recreational facility." Sylvester, 179 Ill. 2d at 509.