Amy Anderson and Joshua Bell succeed in having the Appellate Court affirm their client’s dismissal in a high profile case

Decision dated 6/13/16

David Bogenberger, a student of Northern Illinois University, was found dead on the morning of November 2, 2012 at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house located near the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois after attending a fraternity function called, “Mom and Dad’s Night.” The parents of David R. Bogenberger, the deceased, brought an action against the National Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, the local chapter of the fraternity, as well as various students, and the property owner on which the Northern Illinois chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was located alleging that Mr. Bogenberger’s death was the result of hazing. The firm represented the property owner and landlord for the fraternity house. Anderson and Bell, and attorneys for the co-defendants, filed a joint Motion to Dismiss the 5th Amended Complaint at Law on behalf of the landlord arguing that the defendants cannot be held liable because Mr. Bogenberger was a social guest, and because the well accepted rule in Illinois is that a landlord is not liable for the injuries caused by a defective or dangerous condition on the premises leased to a tenant, except when that landlord exercised control over the residential property. Plaintiff failed to plead specific allegations, facts or instances where the landlord was on the property in some way exercising control over the premises during the lease period. Therefore, it was argued that the landlord could not be liable to the plaintiff for the actions of its tenants. Cook County Judge Kathy Flanagan agreed and granted all of the Motions to Dismiss, and plaintiffs appealed.

The First District Appellate Court heard the appeal, and granted plaintiffs’ appeal as to certain defendants, but upheld the trial court’s granting of the Motion to Dismiss brought by Anderson and Bell on behalf of the landlord. The Appellate Court noted that even though the Appellants argued that the alleged injury to Mr. Bogenberger was foreseeable, Appellant’s Fifth Amended Complaint did not allege any specific facts to show that the landlord was on notice of the event, or any other events which occurred on the property. There were no allegations pled to even suggest that the landlord had any connection to the fraternity, let alone any knowledge of any dangerous conditions or dangerous activities taking place on the subject property, as alleged. The Fifth Amended Complaint only contained a conclusion that the landlord knew of activities, such as, “Mom and Dad’s Night” and did not intervene to stop the activity. Simply stating the conclusion that the landlord knew of “Mom and Dad’s Night” or that it knew of dangerous activities taking place on the property, was not enough to satisfy the pleading requirements. Further, there were no factual allegations as to how the landlord allegedly received notice of the event, or other dangerous activities. The landlord is the only party to the case whose decision is final. The remaining parties have pending petitions to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.Tried 074/07/16 –07/15/16