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Chappell v. Juergens

APRIL 16, 1973.

BEATRICE CHAPPELL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

FREDERIC J. JUERGENS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DAVID A. CANEL, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE EGAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This was a suit for common law negligence which was heard in a bench trial. At the close of the plaintiff's case the trial judge found that the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law and entered judgment for the defendant. The sole issue is whether the judge could properly make such a finding at the close of the plaintiff's case.

The evidence offered by the plaintiff consisted of certain medical bills, the testimony of the plaintiff and an exhibit identified as a Traffic Signal Timing Schedule prepared by the City of Chicago Bureau of Street Traffic purporting to show, among other things, the location of traffic signals at the intersection of Melrose Avenue, Sheridan Road and Lake Shore Drive. The answer of the defendant admitted that he was driving in a northerly direction on Lake Shore Drive and was in the process of turning left to go west on Melrose Avenue on the day of the accident, April 14, 1965.

The plaintiff testified that she left her employer's apartment at 3240 Lake Shore Drive a little before 8:00 P.M. She left the Melrose Avenue side of the building and walked to the corner of the intersection of Melrose and Lake Shore Drive. It was raining. She started across Melrose going south from the northwest corner; she was in the painted crosswalk; when she was about three-quarters of the way across the street she heard a car sound; she looked to her left and then was hit by the defendant's car. There was a traffic control device at the southwest corner. She said: "* * * There was a walk light. The walk light was on for me as I started to cross Melrose." The walk light did not change at any time as she was crossing Melrose. She was knocked about ten feet and wound up near the south curb of Melrose.

On cross-examination she said that she was carrying an umbrella over her head at the time; the traffic was stopped as she started across Melrose; when asked if she noticed traffic going north or south on Lake Shore Drive, she said: "I noticed traffic going south." It was then stipulated that she had testified at her deposition on September 3, 1969, as follows:

"Q. When you got at the corner of Lake Shore Drive and Melrose, you would be on the northwest corner; is that correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. And you would be facing south going toward Melrose?

A. I would be facing south.

Q. Was there a traffic light on the other corner; that would have been on the southwest corner?

A. Yes.

Q. What color was the light for you?

A. Well, red.

Q. When you started to cross, was the ...


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