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Moran v. St. Paul Federal Sav. & Loan Ass'n

MAY 15, 1967.

MRS. CATHERINE MORAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

ST. PAUL FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS J. COURTNEY, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE BURMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

The plaintiff, Catherine Moran, brought this action to recover damages for personal injuries incurred when she slipped and fell on a stairway in a public building which was under the control of the defendant, St. Paul Federal Savings and Loan Association. At the conclusion of the defendant's evidence the court directed a verdict in favor of the defendant. Judgment was entered on the verdict and plaintiff appeals.

On appeal we may not weigh the evidence as that duty belongs to the jury. The only function of this court is to ascertain, from the evidence most favorable to the plaintiff together with all inferences reasonably deductible therefrom, whether there was any evidence of negligence by defendant which warranted submission of the issue to the jury. Mueller v. Elm Park Hotel Co., 398 Ill. 60, 75 N.E.2d 314.

The evidence and inferences most favorable to the plaintiff show that on the evening of March 19, 1958, the plaintiff accompanied by her son, took her ill grandson to see a doctor in defendant's building. It was snowing at 5:00 p.m. when they entered the building and walked up the stairs to the doctor's office on the second floor. They were in the office about fifteen minutes and after having a prescription filled on the same floor they proceeded to the stairway. As plaintiff reached for the banister at the top of the stairs she slipped and fell as she was about to put her foot on the first stair and was injured.

Plaintiff testified that she went back to the doctor's office and after an examination and having the doctor's prescription filled at the pharmacy on the second floor they again proceeded to the stairway. She said she then looked at the stairway for the first time and when asked whether she saw anything that caused her to fall she said:

A. It looked to me like it was — to me it looked like there was milk spilled and it had dried, but it wasn't cleaned. And then the tracks from the snow was on it, too.

Q. You mentioned tracks. Where did the tracks lead from and go to, do you recall?

A. From the landing. From outside, the tracks in the snow. It had to start downstairs, from the entrance up.

Q. Do you recall whether or not they were tracked through the milky substance?

A. Yes, it was wet.

Q. And you described the milky substance as dirty? What do you mean by that?

A. Well, from the tracks it looked like it had been walked on.

William F. Moran testified that he is the son of the plaintiff and by occupation is a police detective. He testified that his mother was in front of him as they approached the stairway and that she was right at the top step when she reached for the banister and fell down the stairs. He said he noticed a "smudge" in the area where she slipped but "I didn't look at it too close." He said they then returned to the doctor's office and after an examination the doctor gave his mother a shot and a prescription which was filled in the second floor pharmacy before they left the building. They went down the same stairs when he observed that "the stairway was wet from the people walking up and down." He said he looked to see what she slipped on. He said he didn't touch it "but it was out from the wall on the landing about eight to fifteen inches, I'd say. It was about the size of a pie tin. It looked like it was kind of a — like vaseline or thick oil. And then tracks through this. It was dark like dirt rubbed into it. On top of that there was water."

Plaintiff contends that the jury should have been allowed to determine the question of the negligence of the defendant. In Olinger v. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., 21 Ill.2d 469, 474, 173 N.E.2d 443, the Supreme Court stated the rule in an action for injuries sustained by slipping on a foreign substance to be as follows: . . . if the substance was on the premises through acts of third persons or there is no showing how it got there, liability may be imposed if it appears that the proprietor or his servant knew of its presence, or ...


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