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Heller v. Select Lake City Theatre Operating Co.

March 15, 1951

HELLER
v.
SELECT LAKE CITY THEATRE OPERATING CO.



Author: Finnegan

Before KERNER, FINNEGAN and LINDLEY, Circuit Judges.

FINNEGAN, Circuit Judge.

Frieda W. Heller, a citizen and resident of the State of Kentucky, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, to recover $50,000 damages for personal injuries alleged to have been sustained by reason of the negligence of the defendant, Select Lake City Theatre Operating Company, a corporation, in the maintenance and operation of the new Great Northern Theatre, in Chicago, Illinois.

Since there is no question arising on the pleadings, it is necessary to state only that the defendant was charged with negligence in one or more of the following particulars:

(a) In failing to provide adequate and safe exit facilities from the row in which plaintiff was seated;

(b) In failing to provide adequate lighting in the said theatre during the time patrons were leaving the theatre;

(c) In maintaining a certain step at or adjacent to the row containing plaintiff's seat in a dangerous and deceptive condition, such that the presence thereof was concealed and disguised;

(d) In failing to give adequate warning of the presence of a certain step at or adjacent to the row containing plaintiff's seat;

(e) In failing to maintain adequate and proper safeguards to protect the safety of patrons within the said theatre; and

(f) In maintaining and operating the said theatre in a dangerous condition and in a negligent manner.

The evidence, produced on behalf of the plaintiff, discloses that on July 31, 1948, she, accompanied by her husband, attended the matinee performance of the stage play "High Button Shoes" at the defendant's Great Northern Theatre, in Chicago, Illinois. Neither of them had ever before attended a performance in said theatre.

Their seats were in aisle "S" on the left-hand side of the theatre, and were numbered 10 and 11. They entered the auditorium at the rear thereof and on the right-hand side. They crossed to the left-hand side behind the seats through an aisle at the rear of the theatre.

It appears that the seats in the theatre are in rows numbered alphabetically from the front to the rear. The rows of seats behind the "S" row are shorter in both the right and left-hand sides of the theatre; the "S" row and other rows closer to the front of the auditorium containing a greater number of seats.

It further appears that in row "R" there is a post which protrudes slightly back of the row and causes a gap in row "S" directly behind the post. This ...


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