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DePaul Law Review
NOTE: THE LEGISLATURE VERSUS THE JUDICIARY: DEFINING "INJURY" UNDER THE TORT IMMUNITY ACT
DePaul Law Review
57 DePaul L. Rev. 1021
Stephanie M. Ailor*
Illinois law currently leaves local governmental entities and their employees wondering whether and to what degree they enjoy immunity from lawsuits relating to their official duties. The governing statute seems clear on its face: the plain language of the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employee Tort Immunity Act 1 ("Tort Immunity Act" or "Act") grants local governmental entities and their employees immunity from both tort suits and certain other civil actions, including suits arising under the Illinois constitution. In fact, the Act's text unambiguously provides that its coverage extends to "any injury alleged in a civil action, whether based upon the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and the statutes or common law of Illinois or of the United States." 2 However, statutory interpretation has rendered the Act's seemingly clear text ambiguous. In several recent decisions, Illinois courts have recognized only immunity from tort suits. The conflict between the plain language of the Act as written by the legislature and its interpretation by the judiciary arises from conflicting definitions of an "injury." On one hand, the plain language of the Act explicitly mandates that local governmental entities and their employees are immune from actions under the Constitution of the State of Illinois. 3 But, on the other hand, some Illinois courts have refused to recognize the full extent of this coverage, instead limiting the immunity afforded by the Act to protection against tort lawsuits alone. 4
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