Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Duty as Common Carrier Evaluated By Illinois Supreme Court Regarding Removal of Ice from Train Platform – Krywin v. Chicago Transit Authority

The Illinois Supreme Court evaluated a Chicago personal injury case involving a slip in fall accident on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) platform. The issue in the case was whether the CTA, as a common carrier, owed a duty to protect its passengers from a natural accumulation of ice on its outdoor platforms. Krywin v. Chicago Transit Authority, No. 108888.

Under Illinois law the CTA is recognized as a common carrier, which is any person or company that is engaged in the business of transporting goods or people. Illinois case law has long established that a common carrier “must use the highest degree of care which is practicable in order to provide passengers with a safe passage from its trains”. In Krywin, the plaintiff’s personal injury complaint maintained that the CTA’s negligence led to her slipping on an icy platform and fracturing her left leg.

The Chicago train company responded by stating that it owed no duty to the plaintiff under the natural accumulation rule. This rule states that a property owner does not have a duty to remove snow, ice, or water that has naturally accumulated on the owned property. The natural accumulation rule typically applies to landowners and has generally not been extended to include common carriers.

However, the majority opinion in Krywin found that the natural accumulation rule did apply to the CTA and therefore it had no duty to remove the natural collection of snow and ice on the platform in order to ensure the plaintiff’s safety. And while this was the majority opinion there was also a dissenting opinion that held that the CTA did owe a duty to its passenger and that the natural accumulation rule did not apply to common carriers, like the CTA.

The dissenting opinion stated that the Illinois General Assembly did not intend that the natural accumulation rule be applied to common carriers. This claim was supported by a citation to the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act that states that “nothing in the Act should affect liability, if any, of a local public entity or public employee based on . . . operation as a common carrier” (745 ILCS 10/2-101b).

However, despite the dissenting opinion criticism of the majority opinion that the natural accumulation rule trumped the defendant’s status as a common carrier, the majority ruling affirming the appellate court’s decision to overturn the jury verdict stands. The court held that the CTA did not have a duty to remove any natural accumulation of ice and snow from its platforms, nor did it have a duty to warn its passengers of those accumulations.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois personal injury lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas of Cook County in and around Chicago, including Evanston, Arlington Heights, Oak Forest, and Woodbridge.

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