Illinois Appellate Court Rules Church Club Has No Immunity Under the Illinois School Code

During a relay race at a party for members of the Calvary Kids Club (CKC), a running backwards race resulted in an injury to one of the children, who broke both of her arms. The event was sponsored by the Calvary Chapel of Lake Villa.

The lawsuit for the injuries to Brittney Gallarneau was brought alleging that Calvary Chapel was negligent. The issue on the motion for summary judgment brought by the defendant Calvary Chapel was whether the Calvary Kid’s Club qualified as a school under Section 24-24 of the Illinois school law. The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of Calvary Chapel, and this appeal followed.

The Illinois Appellate Court reversing the trial judge’s grant of summary judgment concluded that, “While Calvary provides religious instructions through Calvary Kid’s Club (CKC), CKC is nevertheless not the type of establishment that comes within the scope of Section 24-24; thus, Calvary is not entitled to the immunity provided by that section.”

The interpretation of the statute is such that in both disciplinary and nondisciplinary matters in schools, teachers and certified and noncertified personnel stand in the same place as parents and guardians to the students. Kobylanski v. Chicago Board of Education, 63 Ill.2d 165 (1976). Since a parent is not liable for injuries to his or her child absent willful and wanton conduct, Section 24-24 makes teachers and others covered personnel immune from liability for ordinary negligence. 

This immunity is not set out expressly in Section 24-24, but arises indirectly from the in loco parentis relationship of teachers and other education employees with students. Henrich v. Libertyville High School, 289 Ill.App. 3d 809 (1997). 

For the immunity relationship to apply such as a teacher-student, the conduct must be the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. There is vicarious immunity for the institution if the cause of action is predicated on the ordinary negligence of an employee who has statutory immunity. The court here referenced Knapp v. Hill, 276 Ill.App. 3d 376 (1995).

In analyzing the facts in this case, the court found that CKC had no relationship with an educational system. The name itself announces that it’s not a school, but more like a scouting organization run by volunteers who also provide instruction in various subjects and organized activities for its members. But the court found that Section 24-24 does not apply to such voluntary organizations even if they provided some element of instruction.

In conclusion, the appellate court found that viewing the pleadings, admissions, depositions and affidavits on file in the light most favorable to Brittney, it was concluded as a matter of law that the trial court erred in determining that CKC was a “school” pursuant to Section 24-24 of the Code and thus, the lower court’s grant of summary judgment was in error. The appellate court reversed the summary judgment order and remanded the case for further proceedings at the trial court.

Brittney Gallarneau v. Calvary Chapel of Lake Villa, No. 2013 IL App. (2d) 120218 (June 27, 2013).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Bronzeville, Bucktown, Chatham, East Village, Fulton River District, Garfield Ridge, Greektown), Arlington Heights, Downers Grove, Evergreen Park, Frankfurt, Forest Park, Crestwood, Homewood and LaGrange, Ill.

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