Slip and Fall Injury on a Crack In An Alley While Disposing Garbage
In Thomas v. Town of Cicero (307 Ill. App. 3d 840, 719 N.E.2d 187, 241 Ill. Dec. 326 (1999), the plaintiff walked through her backyard and out into the alley in order to dispose of a bag of trash in her garbage can, which was located in the alley. 307 Ill. App. 3d at 841.
After she threw away her trash, the plaintiff continued down the alley in order to visit a neighbor. Thomas 307 Ill. App. 3d at 841.
After she had progressed several feet down the alley from her garbage can, plaintiff tripped and fell on a crack in the alley. Thomas 307 Ill. App. 3d at 841.
In Thomas, the defendant municipality admitted that its alleys were "'easements for people to get to their garages, utilities, electric, cable, and garbage.'" 307 Ill. App. 3d at 842.
Justice Warren Wolfson, writing for this court, found that the defendant municipality had created a "safe harbor" in which the plaintiff was an intended user of the alley so long as she walked along the path to her garbage can, which is the second narrow exception found by Illinois courts. Thomas, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 845. However, once the plaintiff departed from that "safe harbor" and proceeded down the alley to visit her neighbor, she could no longer be an intended user of the alley, merely a permitted one. Thomas, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 845.
Because plaintiff "had thrown away her garbage and had stepped away from the protection of her easement when she tripped and fell," we found that she was not an intended user of the alley. Thomas, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 845.
Justice Wolfson's safe harbor analysis should apply in the instant case. See Thomas, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 845.