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updated: 3/22/2013 3:44 PM

Judge dismisses wrongful death lawsuit in 2011 Geneva dam drowning

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  • Randy Suchy

      Randy Suchy

  • The family of a man who drowned in August 2011 while saving a child from drowning sued the city of Geneva for wrongful death, arguing the city did not do enough to restrict access from the dam on the Fox River despite warning signs. A judge dismissed the case this week.

       The family of a man who drowned in August 2011 while saving a child from drowning sued the city of Geneva for wrongful death, arguing the city did not do enough to restrict access from the dam on the Fox River despite warning signs. A judge dismissed the case this week.
    Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

 
 

A judge has thrown out a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of a Naperville man who drowned in August 2011 saving his girlfriend's son from the boil created by the Geneva Dam along the Fox River.

The suit filed by relatives of Randy Suchy, 59, was dismissed this week by Kane County Judge Edward Schreiber.

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Attorneys for William Suchy, brother of Randy Suchy, argued that the city of Geneva, its park district and Kane County were negligent in not restricting access to the boil along the river just north of the bridge at Route 38 (State Street).

Attorneys for the city and Geneva Park District argued against the lawsuit on two fronts and Schreiber agreed.

Bill Kurnik, attorney for the city of Geneva, argued state law says the city, park district and forest preserve were not liable because none of the three entities owned, controlled or managed the river.

Suchy's attorneys had argued the city restricted swimming near the dam and was therefore responsible.

"That shows you control activities in the water, not the water itself," Kurnik said, adding the state controls the river.

Defense attorneys also argued when there is an "open and obvious danger," such as the boil near the dam, a public entity does not have an obligation or duty to warn people beforehand.

"It is really just duty and immunity, bottom line," said Edward Dutton, attorney for the Park District Risk Management Agency, which represented the Geneva Park District in the case.

Dutton said he spoke with Suchy's attorney, David Wise, and Wise indicated he was going to appeal the ruling.

Wise could not immediately be reached for comment.

Suchy, a veteran of the U.S. Marines and avid scuba diver, jumped into the water to save his Bolingbrook girlfriend's 12-year-old son from the water during a church outing and fishing trip. The boy lived, and Suchy was remembered as a selfless hero.

"It's a tragic situation," Kurnik said, adding there are no winners in a case like this. "A case was dismissed. A judge followed the law."

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