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Farmar v. Crane

SEPTEMBER 26, 1975.

CEIL ANN FARMAR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, CROSS-APPELLANT,

v.

RICHARD F. CRANE ET AL., DEFENDANTS. — (RICHARD F. CRANE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT; FORD MOTOR COMPANY ET AL., DEFENDANTS, CROSS-APPELLEES.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOHN C. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The instant appeal arises from an action to recover damages for the personal injuries plaintiff Ceil Ann Farmar (Farmar) sustained while riding as a passenger in an automobile operated by defendant Richard F. Crane (Crane), which was involved in a collision with an automobile owned and operated by defendant Michael R. Shanahan (Shanahan). The Crane automobile was owned by defendant Ford Motor Company (Ford) and was leased to Crane's employer, defendant Schmerler Ford, Inc. (Schmerler). The court directed verdicts for Ford and Schmerler at the close of plaintiff's evidence and entered judgment for Shanahan but against Crane in accordance with the jury's verdict. Crane appeals from the judgment entered against him in the amount of $235,000 and from the denial of his post-trial motion. He contends that the trial court erred in: (1) not directing a verdict in his favor or not entering judgment notwithstanding the verdict, (2) not granting him a new trial because of alleged errors of the trial court, and (3) not ordering a remittitur.

Farmar cross-appeals from the judgment for Shanahan and the denial of her post-trial motion and from the orders directing verdicts in favor of Ford and Schmerler. She contends that: (1) the trial court erred in directing those verdicts, and (2) the judgment for Shanahan was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

Plaintiff and Dolores Crane, defendant Crane's wife, filed a five-count complaint seeking damages for personal injuries. Plaintiff alleged negligence against Crane, Ford and Schmerler in count I; willful and wanton misconduct against the same defendants in count II; and negligence against Shanahan in count III. Dolores Crane alleged willful and wanton misconduct against her husband, Ford and Schmerler in count IV; and negligence against Shanahan in count V. Before trial, Crane, Ford and Schmerler filed motions for summary judgment regarding count IV as it related to Dolores Crane. The court entered summary judgment on that count for Richard Crane on the basis of inter-spousal immunity and for Ford and Schmerler on the basis of the lack of vicarious liability as a matter of law. Count V was voluntarily dismissed. At the close of plaintiff's case Ford and Schmerler were directed out, after which plaintiff filed a second amended complaint alleging willful and wanton misconduct against Crane in count I and against Shanahan in count II.

The following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial for the plaintiff:

Defendant Michael R. Shanahan under section 60.

At about 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 26, 1969, he was driving his new Buick north on Harlem Avenue in Oak Park on his way to a friend's home. Harlem is a four-lane thoroughfare with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. His headlights were lit; and since the road was wet, his windshield wipers were operating. The traffic was heavy. He was driving at a speed of 20 to 25 miles per hour as he approached the intersection of Pleasant Street. Suddenly, a Ford Thunderbird, which had been traveling south on Harlem, turned left in front of him. He sounded his horn and applied his brakes, but he hit the side of the Thunderdbird.

Michael Cress

On July 26, 1969, he was walking north on the west side of Harlem. It had been raining and the streets were wet. As he reached the northwest corner of Harlem and Pleasant, he heard a horn behind him. He looked back and observed a Thunderbird turning left onto Pleasant and saw a Buick, which had been traveling at the same speed as the other northbound vehicles, collide with it.

Harvey Magargal

He had been driving west on Pleasant and was preparing to turn right onto Harlem. He observed the northbound traffic for three to five minutes. The cars were between 5 and 15 feet apart and he was afraid to execute his turn. He did not see the Buick or the collision. However, one of the cars hit his auto.

Joseph Farmar

He is plaintiff's husband. On the evening of July 25, 1969, he and his wife held a dinner party which their friends, the Cranes, attended. When the Farmars informed the Cranes that they were planning to visit southern Illinois, Crane offered to let them drive their second automobile, which was air-conditioned. After the party, plaintiff accompanied the Cranes in their car to pick up their second car. Later, he saw plaintiff in the ...


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