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Alexander v. Lanterman

FEBRUARY 26, 1963.

WILLIAM D. ALEXANDER AND RUTH ALEXANDER, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

JESSIE LANTERMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. SAMUEL O. SMITH, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.

ROETH, JUSTICE.

In this case, plaintiff Ruth Alexander recovered a judgment for $11,000 for personal injuries which she sustained and plaintiff William D. Alexander recovered a judgment for $500 for property damage he sustained as a result of an automobile collision. The case was tried by a jury, defendant's post-trial motion was overruled and this appeal followed. Only three assignments of error are made, namely (1) the trial court erred in refusing to withdraw a juror and declare a mistrial because of certain remarks of a witness concerning insurance, (2) the verdict as to Ruth Alexander is excessive, and (3) the trial court erred in refusing to give defendant's instruction No. 16.

The incident giving rise to this lawsuit occurred in the town of Williamsville, Illinois, on Main Street. Main Street extends east and west. It is intersected by a north and south street known as Elkhart Street. To the east of Elkhart Street there are residences on both sides of Main Street. These residences have wide parkways between the sidewalk and curb of Main Street and in addition there is a wide parkway in the center of Main Street separating east and west bound traffic. About a block west of Elkhart Street, Main Street is intersected by the tracks of a railroad. On both sides of Main Street between Elkhart Street and the railroad tracks there are business establishments and this would appear to be the main business section of Williamsville. In the block between Elkhart Street and the railroad tracks, Main Street is approximately 185 feet wide from curb to curb. There is a sidewalk in front of the business establishments on both sides of Main Street and these sidewalks abut upon the curbing. Cars parking in this one block area to use the business establishments, park at right angles with the curb. At the southwest corner of Main Street and Elkhart there is a grocery store identified as Waggoner's Grocery Store.

On the day in question the defendant parked her car in front of Waggoner's Grocery Store headed into the curb and at right angles with it. There were other parked cars to her left and right and the number is not material. She went into the grocery store to buy some groceries. The plaintiffs, who are husband and wife, live east of Williamsville and had been in Springfield on the day in question. They came down Main Street at about 4:00 p.m. headed east, and the wife intended to stop at Waggoner's to get some groceries. The weather was clear, dry, cold and it was still light outside. While the wife was doing her grocery shopping, the plaintiff William D. Alexander intended to go to the home of his landlord to pay the house rent. William D. Alexander stopped his car in the center portion of Main Street opposite Waggoner's Grocery Store and headed east. The motor was not turned off. Ruth Alexander opened the right hand door and got out of the car. As she got out she was facing in the general direction of Waggoner's Grocery Store. With the door of the car open she turned and reached into the back seat to get some empty coke bottles. As she was doing so, defendant backed her car from its parking place, into the open door of plaintiffs' car, pinning Ruth Alexander between the door and body of the car.

The distance from the right side of plaintiffs' car to the rear of the defendant's car as it was parked in front of the grocery store, varies from the testimony. The variance is from a low of 20 feet to a high of 35 feet. This in our opinion becomes immaterial on this appeal in view of the errors relied upon for reversal and our opinion thereon.

The first error relied upon by defendant concerns the testimony of the witness Robert Thompson called on behalf of plaintiffs. He testified to certain phases of this collision which he witnessed. He was vigorously cross examined whereupon the following (taken from the record) transpired:

"Q. Have you ever talked to Mr. Alexander about this accident?

A. No I haven't.

Q. Have you ever talked to Mr. Horsley the lawyer here?

A. No.

Q. Have you ever talked to Mr. Vespa in his office?

A. Who is this?

Q. In Mr. Horsley's office?

A. No I haven't.

Q. You haven't talked to Mr. Alexander either, I take it?

A. Not about the accident, no.

Q. You were just asked to come up here ...


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