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Jamison v. Lambke

JULY 26, 1974.




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


Plaintiff commenced this action in the circuit court of Cook County to recover damages for injuries allegedly sustained on June 21, 1967, when he was struck as a pedestrian by an automobile driven by defendant Lambke. At the time of the accident, Lambke was working in the course of his employment for defendant Illinois Bell Telephone Company and was driving a company-owned car. After a jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of plaintiff for $100,000. The jury also answered a special interrogatory consistent with the general verdict. The court entered judgment on the verdict from which this appeal is taken.

The accident occurred on Washington Boulevard within Garfield Park in Chicago.

Washington Boulevard passes through Garfield Park in an east-west direction. At the west edge of the park, it intersects with Hamlin Avenue (3800 West). This intersection is controlled by traffic lights. Proceeding east from Hamlin Avenue, Washington Boulevard makes a shallow "S" curve. It then straightens out as it approaches a pedestrian crosswalk. The crosswalk is 30 feet wide and marked by two white lines. Washington Boulevard is 50 feet wide at the crosswalk, with two traffic lanes both east and west.

The accident occurred slightly after 2:00 P.M. At the time, the weather was drizzling rain but visibility was fair. Even though Washington Boulevard curved slightly in an "S" fashion, a pedestrian standing on the curb at the south side of the crosswalk could observe the intersection of Washington and Hamlin approximately 534 feet away.

At the time of the accident, plaintiff was taking his 11-year-old son for a school medical check-up in a park building located in Garfield Park on the north side of Washington Boulevard. Plaintiff and his son walked through the park traveling north toward Washington Boulevard. Plaintiff walked a short distance ahead of his son.

Plaintiff testified that as he approached Washington Boulevard he stopped at the south curb at approximately the middle of the crosswalk. He looked to the left (west) and he could see all the way to the intersection of Hamlin and Washington. He observed that the traffic light was red for traffic on Washington Boulevard and that traffic was stopped. He observed no moving vehicles on Washington Boulevard between Hamlin and the crosswalk. Looking to his right, plaintiff could see that the traffic light was also red for traffic on Washington Boulevard at its intersection with Central Park (3600 West). Plaintiff observed no moving traffic.

Plaintiff further testified that after looking both ways, he stepped off the curb and started to walk across the street in the middle of the crosswalk. When he was half-way across the outer eastbound or curb lane, he looked back over his right shoulder toward his son who was standing on the curb. Plaintiff told his son to come on before the traffic started. Plaintiff then continued to walk while looking back over his shoulder.

After looking back to his son, plaintiff again looked to his left and observed that there still were no eastbound vehicles. He continued to walk across the street. As he reached the white line separating the two eastbound lanes, he again looked back to see if his son were coming. By then his son had stepped off the curb.

When he was approximately 3 feet into the second or inner eastbound lane, plaintiff looked to his left for the third time. For the first time, plaintiff observed defendant's vehicle traveling east in the inner lane. The vehicle was 20 to 25 feet away. Plaintiff stopped and "just froze." The vehicle was too close for him to do anything. "I threw up my hands and froze."

Plaintiff then testified that he was struck and thrown up onto the hood of the car. He felt himself hit the windshield. At the time he was struck, he was near the middle of the 30-foot crosswalk. When he came to rest after the impact, he was lying in the street at least 15 feet east of the east edge of the crosswalk.

Romel Jamison testified for plaintiff that he and his father came up to the south curb near the middle of the crosswalk. His father looked both ways, stepped off the curb, took about two paces, turned around, and told Romel to come on. Before Romel started to follow, he looked for oncoming vehicles and noticed nothing. By the time plaintiff reached the second lane, Romel was about in the middle of the first lane. At this point, Romel saw defendant's vehicle about 20 feet west of the crosswalk. He then saw plaintiff throw up his hands prior to being struck by the oncoming vehicle.

At the time of the accident, defendant Lambke worked as a communications consultant for Illinois Bell Telephone Company, and was driving a company-owned Ford Falcon. He was on his way to make a customer call and was driving east on Washington Boulevard in the inside lane closest to the center line.

Lambke testified that his speed was 20 to 25 miles per hour. As he came around the curve going into the straightaway before the crosswalk, he noticed plaintiff and his son approaching the curb of Washington Boulevard. The boy was a little behind and to the west of plaintiff. They were about 10 feet away from the curb. As defendant proceeded eastward, he noticed plaintiff come up to the curb. As defendant continued to approach the crosswalk, he observed plaintiff look to his right and dart into the street in a northeasterly direction and east of the crosswalk. Defendant testified that he sounded his horn, applied his brakes and attempted to swerve to ...

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