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Iverson v. Iverson

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 1, 1977.

MARGARET IVERSON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

NORMAN IVERSON ET AL., DEFENDANTS. — (THOMAS J. MAIMONIS, DEFENDANT AND COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

NORMAN IVERSON, DEFENDANT AND COUNTERDEFENDANT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GEORGE KASSERMAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiffs, Barbara Kurth (Kurth) and Margaret Iverson (Margaret) sought recovery in the circuit court of Cook County against defendants, Norman Iverson (Norman) and Thomas Maimonis (Maimonis), for personal injuries they sustained as a result of an automobile collision between the left turning vehicle driven by Norman and the eastbound automobile operated by Maimonis. Maimonis counterclaimed against Norman alleging that the wilful and wanton negligence of Norman caused the accident and resulted in Maimonis being seriously injured.

A jury rendered its verdict against Norman and awarded Kurth and Margaret $20,000 and $35,000 respectively. The jury, while specially finding that Maimonis was not "free from negligence which proximately caused or contributed to cause his alleged injuries," rendered its verdict in favor of Maimonis on his counterclaim against Norman and awarded him $5,000 for the injuries he sustained. The trial court entered judgments on the verdicts.

Defendant Norman appeals the judgments against him and in favor of Kurth, Margaret and Maimonis primarily contending that: (1) the proceedings were tainted with an insinuation of insurance, stemming from remarks by plaintiffs' counsel and a court bailiff made in the presence of the jury; (2) the jury verdict forms were incomplete and inconsistent with the jury's special findings; (3) the verdicts were against the manifest weight of the evidence; (4) the trial court erred in refusing to admit the testimony of defendant Norman's reconstruction expert.

We disagree with defendant Norman's contentions and therefore affirm the trial court.

At trial the only witnesses who had a recollection of events pertaining to the accident were plaintiff Kurth and defendant Maimonis.

Kurth testified that at 3 p.m. on June 24, 1972, she, Norman, and Norman's mother, Margaret attended a party at Kurth's parent's home in Elmhurst. The three left the party at approximately 9:45 p.m. in order to pick up a mutual friend who lived in Villa Park. Norman drove, Kurth sat in the front passenger's seat and Margaret rode in the back seat of the car. While enroute to Villa Park, Norman took several side streets. About a mile before reaching Roosevelt Road, a police officer stopped Norman and informed him that one of his headlights was not working. The officer and Norman inspected the headlights while Kurth and Margaret remained in the car.

According to Kurth, Norman then put on his high beams and proceeded to Roosevelt Road. At Roosevelt Road, Norman signaled, made a right turn, and proceeded down the left or middle lane of Roosevelt Road in a westerly direction. Kurth noticed that Norman missed the left turn that he was supposed to make on Michigan Avenue in order to pick up their friend. Kurth notified Norman of this fact. Norman then tried to make a left turn down Wisconsin Avenue. Norman maneuvered his car into the lane nearest to the double yellow line at the intersection of Wisconsin and Roosevelt. Kurth then heard the clicking sound associated with the turn signal. Kurth looked out her window and observed a car approaching from approximately 10 to 15 feet away. She approximated the speed of that vehicle as 70 miles per hour. Kurth then covered her face and did not yell a warning to Norman. She felt two impacts of the vehicles. She then noticed that the bone in her right leg was pressing against the skin, her knee was cut and a toe on her left foot was broken. Norman and his mother were unconscious. Kurth recalls being taken to the hospital in an ambulance but repeatedly blacking out.

On cross-examination, Kurth admitted that the time was really too short in which to validly approximate the speed of the oncoming vehicle. At her deposition, Kurth testified that Norman had stopped to make his turn before reaching the intersection itself. Her deposition testimony further disclosed that Kurth did not recall Norman signaling before he attempted his turn.

Maimonis was called as a witness for plaintiffs under section 60 of the Civil Practice Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110, par. 60.) He testified that at approximately 10:15 p.m. on June 24, 1972, he left his home to go to work at a baking company where he was assigned to the night shift. He proceeded to Roosevelt Road where he made a left turn. He proceeded in the lane closest to the double yellow line, going east. He stated that he was obeying the speed limit which was posted at 50 miles per hour.

Maimonis first observed Iverson's vehicle while it was travelling just east of Wisconsin Avenue. Norman's automobile was travelling westward and straddling down the double yellow line with one headlight out. Norman's car was partially located in Maimonis' eastbound lane. Consequently, Maimonis applied his brakes very hard, honked his horn, and turned his car to the right to avoid an accident. Since Norman did not signal, it was only at the point of impact that Maimonis realized that Norman was making a left turn.

Neither Margaret nor Norman were able to remember the impact itself. Margaret recalled that Norman turned west on Roosevelt Road and proceeded several blocks. She further related that Norman came to a complete stop before he turned south which was shortly before the accident occurred. Margaret also felt the car being put into gear and heard the clicking of the turn signal before Norman made his turn. Norman testified that he could not recall the facts immediately before or after the accident.

The investigating officer at the scene of the accident was Officer Terry Moore of the Du Page County Sheriff's office. Officer Moore testified that he had stopped Norman earlier on the night of the accident to warn him that he was driving with only one working headlight. He had shown the defective light to Norman, who promised to have it fixed.

The jury awarded Kurth $20,000 for her damages. She had sustained a fractured femur and had undergone two operations. Margaret was awarded $35,000. She had sustained a fractured pelvis. She had been hospitalized and lost 14 weeks of wages. Maimonis was awarded $5,000. He had suffered a ...


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