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Schaefer v. Checker Taxi Co.





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MICHAEL S. JORDAN, Judge, presiding.


This is an appeal from a judgment of the circuit court entered in an action for personal injuries and property damage arising out of a collision between a Checker taxicab and a car occupied by plaintiff Marie Sisson and driven by plaintiff Lila Schaefer. Following a bench trial a finding was entered in favor of the plaintiffs and against defendant Checker Taxi Company, Inc. (hereinafter called "Checker"), assessing damages of $1,550 for Lila Schaefer and $2,200 for Marie Sisson.

The issue under consideration is whether the judgment on the finding of negligence was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

At the trial in this matter, testimony was taken of six witnesses in regard to the issue raised on appeal. Those testifying were Lila Schaefer, Marie Sisson, defendant-Quentin Wilson, Clare Sloope, Walter Weintz and Bruce Levin.

On March 6, 1970, the plaintiff Lila Schaefer was driving her car southeast on the Kennedy Expressway, in Chicago, Illinois. Seated to her right was the plaintiff Marie Sisson. The Schaefer car exited from the Kennedy Expressway and proceeded in a southerly direction up an exit ramp approaching Washington Boulevard. At the top of the ramp there is a "yield" sign controlling cars entering Washington Boulevard off the ramp.

The defendant's taxicab, driven by Quentin Wilson, was proceeding east on Washington Boulevard. At Halsted Street, one-half block west of where the ramp intersects Washington Boulevard, the taxicab stopped to pick up a passenger. In the vicinity of the ramp and Washington Boulevard the collision occurred.

Both plaintiffs testified when reaching the "T" intersection of Washington Boulevard and the exit ramp, Mrs. Schaefer "stopped," facing south, and looked both ways. She then pulled into the second lane from the north curb and proceeded 30 to 40 feet in an easterly direction before the impact occurred. Neither was sure whether they saw the defendant's taxi immediately before, at the moment of, or immediately after the impact, because the collision occurred so suddenly. Both testified that after impact, plaintiffs' vehicle was still facing eastbound and completely within the white lines for their lane of traffic, and defendant's taxi made a spin and ended up against the north curb with its right front wheel facing in a northwesterly direction. Both testified that at the time of impact, defendant's taxi was partially in their lane of traffic and partially in the lane of traffic to their right.

The plaintiff Marie Sisson testified the automobile in which she was riding exited from the Kennedy Expressway at Washington and drove to the top of the expressway where it stopped. While stopped, the plaintiff looked both ways and could see a distance of about 1 to 1 1/2 blocks west of where the auto was stopped. The plaintiff saw no moving traffic coming from the west but did see stopped cars about 1 1/2 blocks away. She testified at the point where the expressway intersects Washington Boulevard, Washington has five lanes of traffic and as they pulled into the second lane from the left and proceeded east for a distance of approximately 2 to 2 1/2 car lengths, the impact occurred.

Marie Sisson described the taxicab as a Yellow Cab, stating it was partially in their lane and partially in the lane to their right at the impact, and that the cab was going 35 to 40 miles per hour at the moment of collision. She testified the cab was going east when it pulled in front of them and at the time of collision they were going 15 to 20 miles per hour.

Plaintiff Lila Schaefer testified on the date of the accident she was driving her car on the Kennedy Expressway, and she exited at Washington Boulevard and proceeded up the ramp in a southerly direction. At the top of the ramp where it intersects Washington Boulevard she stopped for approximately 35 seconds, looking both right and left before proceeding east on Washington. She could see a distance of approximately two blocks when she looked towards the west and although she saw traffic stopped on Washington Boulevard facing east two blocks away, she saw no moving traffic on Washington in that two block distance. At the point where the accident occurred, she described Washington as consisting of five lanes of traffic. She began to move and made a left turn so her car was facing east on Washington. After having turned left into the second lane from the north curb, she testified she moved approximately 40 feet when the impact occurred.

Quentin Wilson testified that on March 6, 1970, he was employed by the Checker Taxi Company as a driver, and on that day he was involved in an accident at Washington Boulevard near the Kennedy Expressway. He had entered Washington Boulevard at Ashland Avenue, which is approximately one mile west of where the accident occurred. He proceeded east on Washington, which is a one-way eastbound street, and arrived at the intersection of Washington and Halsted one-half block west of where the accident occurred when he observed a man at the southeast corner waving his hand for the cab to stop. As he pulled to the southeast corner, he was in the extreme southern lane.

He stopped his cab while the passenger entered the rear of the cab through the right rear door, and as he began to move in an easterly direction he immediately changed his lane, moving into the second lane from the south curb. When the cab was even with the ramp leading up from the Kennedy Expressway, he observed the plaintiffs' car at the top of the ramp, facing south, with its front protruding into Washington Boulevard. He did not see that car come to a stop from the moment he first saw it until impact. He stated at the top of the ramp there is a yield sign for cars coming off of the ramp.

When he saw plaintiffs' car he immediately began to apply his brakes. The other vehicle, however, continued moving south crossing the northern two lanes of Washington Boulevard and struck the cab in the extreme left rear fender and tire. At impact the cab was either even with or half of it was east of the ramp. The cab was moving at about 20 miles per hour, while the other vehicle was going about 10 miles per hour. The impact moved the cab counterclockwise until it came to rest against the north curb facing northwest.

He testified his destination was the Merchandise Mart and he intended to proceed east on Washington to Wacker Drive, which is a distance of more than four blocks. He stated he was in the second ...

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