“Section 41” Rule Gutted

Restrictive language in 1945 removed

By Lisa Parker | Tuesday, July 28, 2009 |

A strict Illinois statute on the books for more than 64 years has changed, thanks in no small part to the efforts of a Hazel Crest woman.

From a minor run-in with a bus to a major derailment of the “L” and every manner of Chicago Transit  Authority mishap in between, dozens of people claim they were hurt by the CTA and then broadsided by Section 41, an item contained in the 1945 Metropolitan Transit Authority Act, which demands precise details about an incident. One mistake or bit of missing information and “the case shall be dismissed” and “the person forever barred from further suing.”

The CTA said it is a frequent target for fraudulent claims, and in its current form, Section 41 protects the agency and taxpayer money, but accident victims say it just doubles their pain.

Merle Huckabee’s fight against the harsh law has now come full circle, though it’s taken 14 years.

Two year’s ago, Huckabee was approached by her state representative, Al Riley, who was then asking for her vote.  Instead, he got her story, and that resulted in sponsorship of a bill that sailed through Springfield in March.

Their efforts led to a permanent change in the law, one they both call a victory for accident victims in Illinois.