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Lukich v. Angeli

JUNE 26, 1961.

BOGDANKA LUKICH, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,

v.

PETE J. ANGELI AND ARTHUR J. WARD D/B/A BELLWOOD CAB COMPANY, EDWARD F. SPEVAK, JR., AND CHARLES F. DAVIS, DEFENDANTS. ON SEPARATE PETITIONS FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL FILED BY EDWARD F. SPEVAK, JR., AND BY PETE J. ANGELI.



Petition for Leave to Appeal from order of the Circuit Court of Cook County granting a new trial; the Hon. JACOB M. BRAUDE, Judge, presiding. Reversed in part and affirmed in part.

MR. JUSTICE BURMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Plaintiff, Bogdanka Lukich, was injured when a cab owned by defendant Pete J. Angeli, in which she was a passenger, was struck by a car driven by defendant Edward F. Spevak, which was in turn struck by a car driven by defendant Charles F. Davis. Plaintiff sued the three defendants for $35,000. The court directed a verdict for Davis at the close of plaintiff's evidence, and this ruling is not contested here. The jury returned a verdict against Angeli, assessing plaintiff's damages at $5,000 and found Spevak not guilty. Judgment was entered on the verdict. Upon plaintiff's motion, a new trial was granted as to both Angeli and Spevak. They filed separate petitions for leave to appeal which this court granted under Ill. Rev Stat Ch 110, § 77(2) (1959). On motion of plaintiff the two appeals were consolidated. No point is raised with respect to the pleadings.

The occurrence happened shortly before 8:00 a.m., on the morning of May 23, 1952, in Bellwood, Illinois, on Washington Boulevard, between 27th Avenue and 28th Avenue. Plaintiff, an employee of Borg-Warner Company, was riding to work in one of Angeli's cabs driven by James V. Dixon. She testified that she told the driver to take her to the alley entrance of Borg-Warner Company. She didn't pay any attention to how the cab was being driven, and while looking for money in her pocketbook to pay the fare she "felt a terrible crash." She was thrown from the seat, "twisting her spine" and hitting her head against the frame of the cab, and felt pain in her head and left knee.

All the cars involved were going east on Washington Boulevard, which was a paved four-lane road. All the witnesses agreed that traffic was heavy. Plaintiff testified that it was drizzling and the streets were somewhat wet, while other witnesses said it was a clear day, though it had rained the night before leaving the streets with small puddles of water.

Spevak testified he was driving in the outside lane and as he neared 27th Avenue he saw the cab on the inside lane to his left about twenty-five feet ahead of him. He saw the tail lights of the cab go on and off and without any signal the cab made a "sudden turn" into his lane at an angle toward the side street. He said the cab made a "very hard stop" and before he came in contact with the cab "I hit my brakes as fast as I could." Davis, who was driving his car following Spevak, saw the cab, which he placed about fifty feet in front of Spevak, pull into Spevak's lane. "It appeared to me a rather quick move." Davis said he hit Spevak's car after Spevak hit the cab.

Dixon, the cab driver, testified he was driving on the inside lane of Washington Boulevard because he was under the assumption that plaintiff wanted to go to the Chicago Screw Company, which was two blocks beyond the Borg-Warner Plant. He said the plaintiff directed him to go to Borg-Warner when he was less than two blocks away from that plant and it was then he decided to pull into the outer lane. Q. "Is it my understanding it was at that point you determined to pull into the lane next to you, on the right? A. That is when I got the first idea and I knew I had a problem to get myself over in the right lane." He said he "looked back" and "saw room to move in;" he turned to his right and gave a signal with his left hand and also "hit" his foot brakes because his directional signal wasn't working. He testified he travelled about 40 feet in the outer lane when plaintiff told him he passed the entrance of Borg-Warner so he had no alternative but to turn into another factory entrance because she wanted to get out and walk back the short distance to her destination. He said he pulled off onto the shoulder of the road at an angle to his right and stopped suddenly to avoid hitting pedestrians walking to the factory, and the next thing he knew the car behind him struck his cab. Plaintiff denied she told Dixon he passed the Borg-Warner entrance and that she wanted to get out. She said when she got in the cab she told the driver she was going to Borg-Warner and they had no other conversation.

Plaintiff's written motion for new trial consisted of eleven paragraphs, as follows:

1. The verdict of the jury is contrary to law.

2. The verdict of the jury is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

3. The verdict of the jury is contrary to the law and the evidence.

4. The damages awarded the plaintiff by the jury are grossly inadequate in that the verdict of $5,000.00 is less than the expenses incurred by the plaintiff resulting from the injury.

5. The verdict of the jury in the sum of $5,000.00 is so inadequate that it resulted from prejudice and bias.

6. The court erred in admitting over the objection of the plaintiff incompetent evidence offered on ...


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