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Crowley v. A-north Shore Driving School

MAY 20, 1974.

PATRICK CROWLEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

A-NORTH SHORE DRIVING SCHOOL, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS W. BARRETT, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BURKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an action for personal injuries allegedly incurred by the plaintiff in the course of administering a driving test to a student of defendant driving school. At the close of the plaintiff's evidence, the court directed a verdict in favor of defendant. Plaintiff appeals.

At the trial, plaintiff testified that on June 28, 1967, the date of the occurrence, he was a State of Illinois driver's license examiner at the North Elston Avenue facility in Chicago, Illinois. He testified that an A-North Shore Driving School instructor named Bill presented a woman named Joan for a driving test. Plaintiff testified that the instructor drove the A-North Shore Driving School vehicle up to the starting line for the driving course. The instructor exited the vehicle and the applicant Joan moved over to the driver's seat. The instructor Bill then stated to plaintiff, "She's ready, take her out."

Plaintiff further testified that he entered the vehicle and was seated on the passenger side of the vehicle. He gave the driver a brief outline concerning the driving course and then they commenced the road test. Plaintiff testified that during the course of the road test, the driver struck a stationary abutment, namely a signal box, and as a result thereof, he was injured.

Plaintiff testified that after the accident, he had x-rays taken and that there was an injury to his right shoulder. He testified that his shoulder was treated with a hot water bottle.

On cross-examination, plaintiff was asked and he responded affirmatively that during his deposition on May 11, 1971, the following colloquy transpired:

(Defense Counsel) "Q — Did you have any conversation with the applicant's driving instructor from North Shore prior to her getting into the car, regarding this specific applicant?

(Plaintiff) A — I can't recall. We probably said, `Hi, how are you,' something like that. That would be it, because they would drive the applicant up to the course and I would tell her to move over and get in the car. I imagine I said, `Good morning,' or `Good afternoon, how are you doing?'"

He further testified that the driving applicant had performed well on the driving course prior to the time she struck the abutment.

At the conclusion of plaintiff's testimony, he rested his case. Defendant moved for a directed verdict on the basis that plaintiff had failed to prove negligence on the part of defendant and that plaintiff had failed to prove any damages. The court granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict. Plaintiff appeals from the judgment entered thereon.

• 1 In determining the propriety of the directed verdict, we shall apply the standard enunciated by the Illinois Supreme Court in Pedrick v. Peoria & Eastern Ry. Co., 37 Ill.2d 494, 510, 229 N.E.2d 504, 513-14:

"[V]erdicts ought to be directed * * * only in those cases in which all of the evidence, when viewed in its aspect most favorable to the opponent, so overwhelmingly favors movant that no contrary verdict based on that evidence could ever stand."

Plaintiff argues that defendant is liable on a theory of negligent entrustment. In support of his argument, plaintiff maintains that Illinois courts recognize liability arising from the act of entrustment of an automobile to one whose incompetency, inexperience or recklessness is known or should have been known by the owner of the vehicle. Dyreson v. Sharp, 333 Ill. App. 198, 76 N.E.2d 809.

• 2 Plaintiff offered no evidence to indicate that defendant knew or should have known that the driver, later identified as Joan I. Noah, was incompetent, inexperienced or reckless. Therefore, the trial court was correct in directing a verdict in favor of ...


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