Illinois has modified the parental immunity doctrine by recognizing foster parents, recognizing an exception in an automobile accident case where willful and wanton misconduct was alleged, where a child sues a deceased parent, and a child may sue grandparents.
A foster child died while in the care of her foster parents. Her estate sued the parents, alleging negligence. The foster parents claimed parental immunity and moved to dismiss. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
Do the foster parents have a right to parental immunity that would absolve them from liability for the child’s death?
The court stated that the doctrine of parental immunity extended to the actions of foster parents so long as the conduct was not willful or wanton. Foster parents stand in loco parentis, or in place of parents, to the children they foster. The doctrine is supported by public policy in preserving the family harmony, and the parents’ authority to discipline their children. Here, the foster parents’ conduct was merely negligent, thus, they were entitled to parental immunity.