CHICAGO – An appellate court has ruled that the city can't be held legally liable for a 2003 porch collapse that killed 13 people and injured dozens more.
In all, 38 lawsuits were filed against the city on behalf of those killed and injured in the June 29, 2003, incident, the Department of Law said in a release.
Wednesday's ruling does not affect other lawsuits related to the collapse, including those naming the owner and manager of the apartment building where the accident took place and the company that built the porch.
The three-judge First District Appellate Court voted unanimously to exclude the city from the lawsuits. Municipalities shouldn't be held liable for damages when people are injured on private property that isn't up to code, the panel said.
The city has said the porch in the Lincoln Park neighborhood was built without construction permits and not according to regulations.
The plaintiffs had argued that the city could be liable because it enforces building codes.
"While we certainly do not condone the city's behavior related to the inspection of the subject porch, (the city) did not owe the individual plaintiffs a duty to protect them against its collapse," Judge Alan Greiman wrote.
A message left for the city's law department was not immediately returned after business hours Wednesday.
Several lawyers for the plaintiffs told the Chicago Tribune they plan to appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.
"Without the City of Chicago in the case, these families are not going to get anywhere near fair compensation," said Terry Ekl, who represents the family of Robert Koranda, who died in the collapse.