Q&H Prevails in 3rd District Appellate Court Wrongful Death Claim
Shareholder Jason Callicoat recently obtained a favorable decision from the Illinois Third District Appellate Court upholding summary judgment for two property owners in a wrongful death case. The case arose from a motor vehicle accident that occurred as the Co-Defendant driver was leaving the property. Just before the collision, the driver and some of his friends had visited the property owners. During the visit, they helped unload some grain, and they drank some beer. Plaintiff alleged that the property owners were liable for the driver’s negligence based on a theory of respondeat superior and in-concert liability. Plaintiff alleged the driver was an agent of the property owners based on the work he performed for them, and that the property owners acted in concert with the driver by providing him with alcohol and encouraging him to drive after he became impaired.
Querrey & Harrow argued that the driver voluntarily helped unload the grain, and he then stayed at the property for another hour or two drinking beer and socializing. He chose when to leave, and the property owners did not control his actions in any way. Querrey & Harrow also argued that the property owners did nothing to encourage or assist the driver in becoming intoxicated or deciding to drive home in that state. The property owners had a cooler of beer available, and the driver helped himself to as much as he wanted, without being monitored by the property owners, who did not know he was intoxicated when he decided to leave. Querrey & Harrow argued these circumstances provided no basis to impose any liability on the property owners for the negligent actions of the driver. The Illinois Appellate Court agreed and upheld summary judgment in favor of the property owners.