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Bebb v. Yellow Cab Co.

FEBRUARY 2, 1970.

MAE BEBB, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

YELLOW CAB COMPANY, DEFENDANT-COUNTERPLAINTIFF-COUNTERDEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND JOHN DEVRIES, DEFENDANT-COUNTERDEFENDANT-COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLEE. MINNIE DYKSTRA AND ANNA DEVRIES, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

YELLOW CAB COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HARRY H. PORTER, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE MURPHY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

This is a personal injury and property damage action arising out of a collision between a Yellow Cab and a Chrysler automobile, in which two suits were consolidated for trial before a jury. In the first case, Mae Bebb, the passenger in the taxicab, sued the Yellow Cab Company and John DeVries, driver of the Chrysler, for personal injuries, and John DeVries and Yellow Cab Company both counterclaimed against each other for property damage to their respective vehicles. In the second case, Minnie Dykstra and Anna DeVries, passengers in the automobile driven by John DeVries, sued the Yellow Cab Company for personal injuries. Defendant Yellow Cab Company appeals from judgments entered on the following verdicts:

1. For Mae Bebb against Yellow Cab Company in the sum of $20,000.00 and against Mae Bebb and for John DeVries.

2. For John DeVries against Yellow Cab Company in the sum of $364.94, and against Yellow Cab Company on its counterclaim.

3. For Minnie Dykstra against Yellow Cab Company in the sum of $4,500.00, and for Anna De Vries against Yellow Cab Company in the sum of $250.00.

On appeal defendant Yellow Cab Company contends (1) that the trial court's refusal to direct a verdict for defendant on the counterclaim of John DeVries was prejudicial error; (2) certain comments, admonitions and rulings of the trial judge so influenced the determination of the jury that the Cab Company was denied a fair and impartial trial; (3) that the jury was improperly instructed on the speed statute; and (4) the verdicts exonerating DeVries and against the Cab Company were contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

John DeVries testified that on June 7, 1963, around 9:00 a.m., he left his home in Holland, Michigan, with his wife and Mr. and Mrs. Dykstra, to visit relatives in Chicago. At about 2:43 p.m., he was driving his Chrysler Imperial north on Harlem Avenue at about the posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour. The weather was perfect, and his car was in "A-1 condition." He was driving in the center lane, and when he first saw the cab he was about 35 feet from the intersection of Harlem and 71st Street and about 80 feet from the cab. The cab was going south between 10 and 15 miles per hour in the center lane. When the DeVries car approached 71st Street, the cab, without any warning, made a sudden left turn in front of him. DeVries applied his brakes and skidded about 75 or 80 feet before he struck the cab. DeVries did not see any directional signals or indicator lights on the cab. DeVries swung to the left and hit the cab's rear bumper and spun it around. After the impact the DeVries car was facing north and the cab was facing west. There had been no traffic ahead of DeVries, and his last previous stop was at a traffic light at 75th Street. At the moment of impact DeVries was going about 10 or 15 miles an hour.

Plaintiff, Mae Bebb, the passenger in the cab, testified she didn't see anything because she was asleep.

Plaintiff, Minnie Dykstra, a passenger in the Chrysler, was sitting in the rear seat behind her husband. She did not see what happened, and when the car collided "it was such a shock that I pushed out my hand, and with that I saw there was a cab in front of us."

Plaintiff, Anna DeVries, was sitting in the back seat behind her husband with Mrs. Dykstra. She saw the cab before the collision but would make no comment on where the front of her car was with relation to 71st Street at that time. She couldn't say how many lanes were on Harlem or whether the cab was already at 71st Street or north of 71st Street when she saw it. She would make no comment on how many miles per hour the cab was going.

Onzo Hoosmon, driver of the Yellow Cab, testified that he picked up Mae Bebb at the Englewood station at 63rd and State. He turned south onto Harlem from 63rd Street. Harlem was a four-lane road and has curves south of 63rd Street — the last one being about a block away from 71st Street. When they came out of the last curve, Mae Bebb told him to turn left at 71st Street. He put on his left-turn signal that blinked yellow lights in the front and rear, and got over into the left lane as close as possible in order to turn. When he came up to 71st Street he was going 10 to 15 miles per hour and turned into the south half of 71st Street at that speed so another car could come out if it wanted to. The cab was hit over the right rear wheel and the impact pushed the cab completely around to face west.

James Lhotak testified that he was an eyewitness to the collision. He was driving his car to work and was giving a lift to Skip Marsten. At the time of the collision he was facing east on 71st Street, stopped at a stop sign waiting to turn right to go south on Harlem. He saw the cab before the collision heading south on Harlem about 50 or 60 feet away from the intersection. The cab's left-turn signal was on as it approached 71st and was going about 5 or 10 miles per hour. It slowed and made a normal, not a sudden, left turn into 71st Street. The sound of screeching brakes and skidding called his attention to the northbound Chrysler. It was going about 50 miles per hour in the northbound lane near the yellow line in the center of Harlem and was about 90 feet from 71st Street. The speed limit there was 40 miles per hour. The Chrysler swung over to the right-hand lane and hit the Yellow Cab in the right rear with the right front of the Chrysler. At the time of impact the rear of the cab was in the northbound lane closest to the curb and traveling about 10 to 15 miles per hour. The impact swung it around to make it face west. After the collision he waited for the police. He gave his name and left for work, but Skip stayed at the scene.

Glen Marsten (Skip) substantially corroborated the testimony of James Lhotak. Before the collision he saw the cab on the southbound side of Harlem next to the double yellow line, about two car lengths or 40 feet from the intersection. The cab's left-turn signal was flashing and the cab was going 5 to 10 miles per hour. The cab made a slow, normal left-hand turn into the eastbound lane of 71st Street. Screeching brakes called his attention to the northbound Chrysler. It was 100 feet away from 71st Street, in the northbound lane next to the double yellow line, going approximately 50 miles per hour. The Chrysler went into the curb lane where the impact occurred. The cab was going about 15 miles per hour then. The right rear quarter of the cab was struck and four feet of the cab protruded into the curb lane of Harlem. The rest of the cab was off of Harlem on 71st Street. The impact swung the rear end of the cab around and headed the front of the cab west toward Harlem. After the collision he helped Officer Stanton measure the skid marks from the Chrysler. They came from the lane next to the double yellow line and swerved to the lane next to the curb, ending at the place of impact.

Officer Harry Stanton of the Bridgeview Police Department testified that he investigated an accident at 71st and Harlem on June 7, 1963, at 2:43 p.m. He arrived at 2:45 p.m., and "a Yellow Cab was on the northeast corner, more on 71st St. than on Harlem, and a black Chrysler was on Harlem facing north." The cab was hit in the right rear fender, "just behind the double door," and the Chrysler was damaged in the right front. John DeVries stated to him: "I was traveling north on Harlem about 40 or a little more miles per hour. At the intersection of 71st St. I saw a taxicab making a left turn into 71st east, and applied my brakes and skidded about 60 feet. Unable to stop in time my vehicle struck vehicle number 1 in the right rear fender."

Officer Stanton further testified that the posted speed limit on Harlem was 40 miles per hour. Also, with the aid of a man called "Skip," he measured the skid marks laid down by the Chrysler to be 80 feet, the point of impact being in the northbound lane, six or eight feet from the east edge of Harlem. The police report diagram showed the point of impact to be in the outer lane of traffic, closest to the east curb. He knew where the point of impact was from the debris on ...


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