Work-Related Death of a Minor That Was Employed In Violation of the Child Labor Law

In Newton v. Illinois Oil Co., 316 Ill. 416, 147 N.E. 465 (1925), the plaintiff brought a wrongful death action against the defendant following the death of his 15-year-old son. The decedent had been employed by the defendant in violation of the Child Labor Law and died after being caught between the floor of an elevator and a gate while at work. The father, mother, and two brothers survived. Our supreme court held that the parents' violation of the Child Labor Law wholly defeated recovery in an action by the administrator of the decedent's estate. "It is a general principle of undoubted acceptation, that courts of justice will not assist a person who has participated in a transaction forbidden by statute to claim damages growing out of such transaction or relieve himself of the consequences of his illegal act. When the unlawful act of the plaintiff concurs in causing the damage he complains of, he cannot recover compensation for such damage, and if he suffer injury while violating a public law, though the party injuring him is likewise a transgressor, he cannot recover for the injury if his unlawful act was a contributing cause thereof. The court will not assist either party to an illegal transaction but will leave them where they have chosen to place themselves." Newton, 316 Ill. at 422, 147 N.E. at 467.