Court Dismisses Suit Against Police For Failing to Protect Woman from Self-Induced Drug Overdose

March 5, 2021

One of the strongest immunities provided the police under the Illinois Tort Immunity Act is immunity for providing inadequate police protection services. The policy behind the statute is based on the common law public duty rule which states that while the police owe a duty to protect the general public at large they cannot be liable for failing to protect individuals from harm caused by others and in some cases, from self harm.

Such was the case when a man sued New Lenox officers for the death of his mother, who overdosed on illegal drugs consumed in the bathroom of the police station. Officers had given her a ride on a cold winter’s night after she was evicted from her home. They allowed her to remain unaccompanied in the lobby of the station. She was found eight hours later from an overdose of heroin. The court found that the officers owed no legal duty of care because the woman was not in custody or under arrest or otherwise detained. Nor were the officers enforcing or executing the law when they gave her a ride. Further, her self-induced death was the sole proximate cause of her death and not the acts of the officers. Finally, the officers and village were entitled to absolute immunity under section 4-102 of the Tort Immunity Act for providing inadequate police protection services. The officers and village were represented by Mike Bersani of Hervas, Condon & Bersani, P.C.

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