Gross Negligence is Tantamount to Willful and Wanton
October 25, 2010
The Governmental Tort Immunity gives immunity to government agents and employees for negligence during the performance of their official duties. That is bad in and of itself. There is however one reprieve and the line has been drawn at reckless disregard for public safety when a person is so careless, so negligence that it can only be characterized as an intentional act.
Read the facts of this case and tell me whether the utter careless disregard for the safety of all persons’ involved (and all those third parties on and off the road) is tantamount to a willful and wanton act causing the death of a child. The scenario below is perfect example:
On Mother’s Day 2010, Kathie La Fond worked a double shift, getting off of work at approximately 11:45. After leaving work, she went home and went to bed. Sometime thereafter, she received a call from friends of her boyfriend Cecil Conner. Those friends asked that Ms. LaFond come to pick Cecil Conner up because he was heavily intoxicated and needed to be taken home. Ms. LaFond got dressed and drove to pick up Mr. Conner. She placed her five year old son, Michael Langford Jr., in his car seat and drove to pick Mr. Conner up from the party.
After picking up Mr. Conner from the party, Ms. LaFond was in the process of driving to Mr. Conner’s house when a Chicago Heights’ Police Officer pulled her over for failing to use a turn signal. That officer then asked for her license, which she was unable to produce. The officer called his dispatcher and discovered that Ms. LaFond’s driver’s license was suspended. The officer then came back to the car and placed Ms. LaFond under arrest.
Instantly, Ms. LaFond pleaded with the office to allow her to take her baby home, as he was still sleeping in the back seat. She also told the officer that she was the designated driver and that Mr. Conner was intoxicated. The Chicago Police officer refused her request and told her that her baby would be fine. He then placed Ms. LaFond in his squad car and gave custody and control of the vehicle she was driving to Mr. Conner.
Approximately 35 minutes later, Mr. Conner crashed the car containing Michael Langford, Jr. into a tree. The impact broke Michael’s neck, which killed him. This accident occurred in Steger, Illinois, which is adjacent to Chicago Heights. Immediately, the police in Steger noticed that Mr. Conner had slurred speech and an odor of alcohol on his person.