Illinois Appellate Court Limits Scope of Illinois Gender Violence Act
Posted on March 11, 2012 by Eugene Hollander
An 18 year old woman, only identified as "Jane Doe" in court papers, attended a fraternity party at the University of Chicago. She became heavily intoxicated, and claimed that "Eric" later raped her at an off-campus apartment. Doe sued the fraternity under the Illinois Gender Violence Act, claiming that the fraternity knew or should have known that she could become a victim of sexual assault after becoming drunk at the fraternity party. Doe relied upon this state statute as opposed to common law negligence as it is a powerful remedy. The law can provide for punitive damages or the recovery of attorney's fees to a successful litigant. The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander often uses this potent weapon when litigating sexual harassment cases
. The fraternity filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was not a "person" as defined by the law. The trial court granted the motion, and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the ruling. The Appellate Court concluded that the alleged conduct constituted gender violence, but there was no connection between the fraternity and the alleged assault. The reviewing court also reasoned that because this was a case of social host liability, Illinois law forbade Doe from pursuing a case against the fraternity.