On December 1, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Pamela Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, Inc., et al., 2016 IL 120394. The case arises out of a claim by the Plaintiff, Pamela Murphy-Hylton, that she slipped and was injured while walking on the sidewalk outside her condominium. Ms. Murphy-Hylton alleged that a defective condition and negligent maintenance of the property created an "unnatural accumulation of ice" that caused her to fall. The trial court initially granted judgment in favor of the Defendants, Lieberman Management Services, Inc. and Klein Creek Condominium finding that the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act (745 ILCS 75/0.01) provided protection and immunity to the defendants. On appeal, the judgment was reversed. The matter was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, who has agreed with the appellate court.
At common law in Illinois, if a person was bitten by a dog and suffered an injury, he could only recover for his damages if he could prove the dog had previously shown a disposition to "bite mankind," and that the dog's owner had notice of this disposition, such as knowledge that the dog had bitten someone before. Absent evidence of a dog's vicious propensities, he was presumed to be "tame, docile, and harmless." Additionally, the injured person could not recover for his injury if he knowingly approached the dangerous dog, or provoked him. The liability of the dog owner was through an act of negligence, and only if he harbored a "vicious dog". The burden of proof was on the injured person.