Illinois Supreme Court Refuses To Remand Willful-And-Wanton Assertion Against Ambulance Company

Karen Wilkins was making a left turn on a busy street in Oak Lawn, Illinois when she collided with an ambulance owned by Superior Ambulance Service. The ambulance was transporting a patient at the time, but did not have its siren or flashing lights on. Wilkins, injured in the accident, sued Superior. Her one-count complaint claimed Superior’s negligence caused the accident.

Superior asked the trial court for summary judgment because, Superior asserted, the Illinois Emergency Medical Services Systems Act gave the ambulance company immunity from being sued. The trial court agreed and gave Superior summary judgment.

Wilkins then appealed. The First District Illinois Appellate Court sided with Wilkins, and ruled that the Act did not give immunity when the ambulance was was being driven in an ordinary, non-emergency manner.

So Superior appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. Worried that the supreme court might agree Superior was immmune from suit, Wilkins argued: if Superior’s immunity defense applied, then the case should be sent back to the trial court to determine whether Superior’s negligence was willful and wanton (which would defeat the immunity).

But the Illinois Supreme Court refused to send the case back for a trial on a willful-and-wanton assertion because “plaintiff [Wilkins] never included a count alleging willful and wanton conduct in her complaint … In addition, at no time did plaintiff seek leave to amend her complaint to add a willful and wanton count.”

Wilkins’s case was hurt by the lack of a willful and wanton negligence count. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated Superior’s summary judgment, and Wilkins did not have a willful and wanton claim to fall back on. Click here to read the whole case, Wilkins v. Williams, 2013 IL 114310 (6/20/13).

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