Illinois Legislation Proposes Removal of Tort Immunity Exception for Outside Safety Consultants

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March 28, 2014
Matthew Horn
SmithAmundsen Construction Alert

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On February 14, 2014, Illinois Senator Kwame Raoul introduced Senate Bill 3287, which is proposed legislation seeking to remove an existing exception in the Workers' Compensation Act providing immunity to outside safety consultants and service providers for personal injury claims allegedly stemming or resulting from negligent services provided by those service providers. 

This legislation follows the 2012 court decision in Mockbee v. Humphrey Manlift Co., wherein the First District Court of Illinois granted summary judgment to outside safety consultants in a lawsuit filed against those consultants by an injured employee/plaintiff allegedly stemming from the safety consultants’ improper and negligent inspection of the man-lift that the injured employee/plaintiff fell from.

By way of example, currently, if an employee is injured on a project and files suit to pursue recovery for his/her injuries from the employer’s outside safety consultant, the outside safety consultant is immune from liability for that claim. Under the proposed legislation, the outside safety consultant would not be immune from liability for that claim, and could be held liable to the injured employee/plaintiff for any judgment rendered against it.

The long-term impact of the legislation, assuming it passes, will be significantly increased insurance costs for outside safety consultants, and increased safety service and insurance costs for their clients.

Notably, the legislation is being pursued by the Illinois Trial Lawyers (i.e. plaintiffs/personal injury lawyers), a powerful lobbying force in Illinois. As referenced above, they are pursuing the legislation because it will allow them the opportunity to pursue civil litigation against an employer’s outside safety consultant for virtually any injury sustained by that employer’s employees.