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Prignano v. Mastro

JULY 7, 1965.

ALFRED PRIGNANO, PLAINTIFF, ELAINE PRIGNANO AND MARY PRIGNANO AND CAROLYN PRIGNANO, MINORS, BY ELAINE PRIGNANO, THEIR MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

JACK MASTRO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND NICK T. MASTRO, DEFENDANT. WILLIAM JOICEY AND REGINALD MAIN, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

ALFRED PRIGNANO, DEFENDANT, JACK MASTRO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND HENRY PARRILLI, DEFENDANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOHN B. PAVLIK, Judge, presiding. Affirmed. MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE MCCORMICK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Suit was brought by Alfred Prignano, Elaine Prignano, and Mary and Carolyn Prignano, minors, by Elaine Prignano, their mother and next friend, as plaintiffs, against Jack Mastro and Nick T. Mastro, as defendants. A second suit was brought by William Joicey and Reginald Main, plaintiffs, against Alfred Prignano and Jack Mastro as defendants. The cases were consolidated for trial. The first suit was a trial before the court without a jury. The court made a finding in favor of the plaintiffs, Elaine, Mary and Carolyn Prignano, against defendant, Jack Mastro, finding that Carolyn had sustained damages in the sum of $350, Mary in the sum of $1,000, and Elaine in the sum of $2,100.

The second suit was a jury trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, Joicey and Main, and against the defendants, Alfred Prignano and Jack Mastro, awarding damages of $27,500 for plaintiff Joicey and $750 for plaintiff Main. Judgment was entered on that verdict.

Jack Mastro filed a post-trial motion in the consolidated cases, which motion was denied. From the judgments entered against him Jack Mastro takes this appeal.

The actions arose out of a three-car accident which occurred about 2:30 p.m., on July 4, 1957 (a warm, sunny day), at the intersection of 25th Avenue, a north-and-south street, and St. Charles Road, an east-and-west street, in Bellwood, Cook County, Illinois. The intersection was controlled by traffic signal lights. Defendant Jack Mastro, driving east, collided with defendant Alfred Prignano, driving south, who then struck the vehicle of Joicey which was standing, facing north. Joicey was in the driver's seat and Main was seated next to him. In the car driven by Alfred Prignano, his wife, Elaine, and his daughters, Mary and Carolyn, were passengers. Alfred Prignano took no appeal from the judgments entered in the trial court. He filed a brief in this court which was stricken.

The theory of the defendant, Jack Mastro, is that the verdict of the jury against him was against the manifest weight of the evidence and that the sole negligence was that of his co-defendant, Alfred Prignano; that the court erred in giving an instruction and in refusing to allow certain evidence to be introduced and in refusing to hold that the negligence of Prignano barred any claim by his minor children for medical expenses.

The evidence is in sharp conflict. Joicey testified that he was going north in 25th Avenue and stopped for the traffic light which had been red for three or four seconds before he reached the intersection; that his car was in the inner lane as he intended making a left turn when the light changed; that he saw Mastro's car coming east on St. Charles Road in the outer lane closest to the curb; that there was a car in the eastbound inner lane (Sliwinski's car) already stopped at the intersection when Mastro was two to three car lengths away from the intersection of 25th Avenue. He stated that Prignano's car was on 25th Avenue, going south, and that Prignano went through the red light, traveling at a speed of 45 miles an hour; that Mastro's car, traveling east, hit Prignano's car and threw it over onto Joicey's car. He further stated that after Mastro's car hit Prignano's car, the latter car would have tipped over if Joicey's car had not been there to stop it. He stated that he saw the Mastro car coming eastbound in the curb lane for only a fraction of a second, or a couple of seconds, about 20 to 36 feet back of the place where the collision occurred, and that the Mastro car was traveling at 35 to 40 miles an hour.

Alfred Prignano testified that he was traveling south on 25th Avenue; that as he approached St. Charles Road the traffic signal for him was green; he was traveling at 20 to 25 miles an hour and he kept going. He stated that he saw one car standing still, facing east next to the center line (the Sliwinski car); that he did not see any other traffic either stopped or moving eastbound in St. Charles Road when he looked from 30 to 50 feet before he reached the intersection. He further testified that before he came in line with the stopped car he saw the Mastro car coming east on St. Charles Road; that he was about three-quarters of the way through the intersection when Mastro struck him. He stated that Mastro came around the side of the Sliwinski car and that he, Prignano, was right in front of the Sliwinski car when he first saw Mastro. Prignano further said that when he entered the intersection he was in the lane next to the center line; that the Mastro car struck the center of the Prignano car on the right side between the two doors; Prignano's car was thrown sideways and struck the Joicey car. Prignano indicated confusion as to the corners on which the traffic lights were situated and as to which light he was observing.

Elaine Prignano testified that as the Prignano car approached St. Charles Road she saw a traffic light on the southwest corner when they were about 100 to 150 feet from the intersection; that the light for the southbound traffic was green, and was still green when they were 30 to 50 feet away and when they were entering the intersection. She stated that she then saw an eastbound car stopped, waiting for the light (Sliwinski's car); that as the Prignano car entered the intersection, approaching the stopped eastbound car, there was another oncoming eastbound car (Mastro's) which went around the Sliwinski car and struck their car.

It is admitted that the speed limit for both streets was 25 miles an hour.

Reginald Main, one of the plaintiffs, who was a passenger in the Joicey car, testified that at the time of the accident the Joicey car was stopped at the intersection for a red light which had been red for three or four seconds; that he did not see either the Prignano car or the Mastro car before the collision.

Peter Sliwinski testified that at the place and time in question he was driving his car east on St. Charles Road; that he had stopped for an amber light which immediately turned to red; that he was in the lane next to the center line; that no cars were behind him or in the other traffic lane; that when the light turned green he started to move but saw a car coming from the north which made no attempt to stop, so he stopped his car. He stated that he did not see how fast the Prignano car was going and that the first time he saw it the front of the Prignano car was south of the north curb; he saw the Mastro car pass him.

Jack Mastro testified that he was traveling east on St. Charles Road; that when he was 100 to 200 feet back of the lights he stopped his car because he had a red light facing him; he saw the Sliwinski car to his left and it did not block his vision; that when the light changed to green he started his car. He stated that the Sliwinski car also started, but stopped abruptly, and that when he looked up he saw the Prignano car coming, which car he struck. He further testified that he did not know the speed at which the Prignano car was traveling, but that the traffic light for the Prignano car was red; that at the time he stopped he was 8 to 10 feet back of the light and when it turned to green he proceeded through the 8 to 10 feet to the intersection. He stated that when he first saw the Prignano car it was in the intersection; that after the impact the Prignano car hit the Joicey car; that the front end of the Prignano car was down and the other side went straight up in the air, flipping over onto the Joicey car.

Mastro here argues that the manifest weight of the evidence established that he was not guilty of negligence but that the sole negligence was that of Prignano. In support of that argument he stated that the photographs of his car and Prignano's introduced in evidence establish that he could not have been driving at 35 miles an hour when the collision occurred because his car sustained relatively little damage. Under the circumstances of this case we do not give much weight to this argument as we consider the photographs and the extent of damage to the striking car to have only slight probative value.

In this case there was a question presented for the jury to determine whether or not the Prignano car had entered the intersection on a green light which then changed to red; whether or not the Mastro car had, on a green light, entered the intersection at the rate of 35 miles an hour; and whether or not Mastro, assuming he had entered the intersection on a green light, ...


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