You may recall the unfortunate collapse of a Chicago porch at a party that killed thirteen and injured 57. Of course there are lawsuits against the building owners and the contractor who built a porch that couldn’t support 70 people. But the plaintiffs’ attorneys recognize that that insurance and the defendants’ underlying assets will run out quickly. Thus, they have sought to join the city of Chicago as a defendant for allegedly failing to enforce building codes. (Because, as anyone who has lived in Chicago knows, what that town needs is more city workers.)
John Ehrlich, the city’s chief assistant corporation counsel, told Cook County Judge Jeffrey Lawrence that if he didn’t drop the city from the lawsuit, it could lead to suits against other cities for everything from bad restaurant food to house fires.
“That makes the city of Chicago an insurer for every single bad incident that occurs on private property. And it makes every city — every municipality in the state — an insurer for every bad incident” that happens, Ehrlich said. ”If you allow that to happen, you will have [the] bankruptcy of every single municipality and local government in the state. That is simply untenable.”
(Nathaniel Hernandez, “Porch suit threatens Illinois cities: lawyer”, Chicago Sun-Times, Aug. 24).