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Question of fact: Did the location of a stove in an apartment cause injuries to child

An Illinois Appellate Court has recently reversed the decision of a Cook County Circuit Court Judge entering summary judgment in favor of a property owner and property manager on the grounds that the injured plaintiff, a minor child, had presented sufficient facts and evidence to show that the placement of a gas stove in the apartment where the minor child was living could have proximately resulted in the minor's injuries. The plaintiff had engaged an architectural expert to testify under oath that the stove's placement created an unreasonable hazard and could have contributed to the plaintiff's injuries when the minor's shirt caught fire as he walked past the ignited gas stove. 

The stove's burners had been ignited in order to provide warmth in the cold apartment. The stove had been placed in the apartment in a location where the stove abutted the primary entrance and exit to the kitchen. The expert witness, a licensed architect, testified that the kitchen was "L-shaped" with the gas stove at the terminus of the small part of the "L" with the stove aligning with the primary path of ingress and egress for the kitchen. There was no counter space on either side of the stove, and therefore, the architect was of the opinion that the layout of the kitchen was "inherently dangerous" and created a "hazardous condition."

The expert testified that it was more probable than not that the location of the stove in the kitchen created an increased likelihood of inadvertent contact with the stove's burners and/or cookware on top of the stove while in use. Therefore, the location of the stove caused or contributed to the minor's shirt catching fire as he walked past the stove. The expert stated that the kitchen lacked a proper break counter and/or safety barrier between the stove and the hallway.

The Appellate Court held that the expert's opinions created a sufficient question of fact for the jury to decide, and therefore the defendants were not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The case has been sent back to the Circuit Court for further proceedings.

Here at Strong Law Offices, we regularly investigate claims of negligence against property owners and property managers. In Illinois, a property owner has a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition under the circumstances. See Illinois Premises Liability Act, 740 ILCS 130/2. If you have been injured as a result of a dangerous or defective condition in your apartment or rental home, you should not delay in seeking experienced legal representation to assist you in determining your rights and interests.

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