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Haynes v. Chicago Transit Authority





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RAYMOND K. BERG, Judge, presiding.


Plaintiff, James Haynes, instituted a negligence action against defendant, Chicago Transit Authority (C.T.A.), for injuries allegedly sustained from an assault and battery occurring on a C.T.A. "L" platform. The trial court denied defendant's motion for directed verdict. Thereafter, the cause was submitted to a jury which returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $5000. Defendant appeals.

We affirm.

The issues presented for review are (1) regarding foreseeability of the assault and failure to prevent the injury, whether the jury's verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence, and (2) whether the trial court erroneously denied defendant's motion for directed verdict.

On October 30, 1970, plaintiff and his brother, Raymond Haynes, were returning from a visit to another brother's home via the rapid transit. They were the only passengers to alight at the Milwaukee, Damen & North station. Their testimony indicated that on that same date at approximately 3 a.m., after exiting a C.T.A. train at Damen, plaintiff was assaulted and beaten on the "L" platform by two men. As plaintiff approached the stairwell, one of the men grabbed him and the other struck him in the leg with a tire iron, knocking him down the stairs.

Raymond Haynes testified that he was a few feet in front of his brother when the assault occurred. He had already started down the stairwell when he heard a noise, turned around, and saw a man grabbing at his brother. He started back up the stairs, James was shoved past him, and then one of the men pushed him. He went to his injured brother, carried him down the remaining stairs, and drove him to St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital. No ticket agent, guard, or patrolman was on the platform at the time of the incident. Dr. Ornell Dereng testified that after examining plaintiff, his diagnosis was a fracture of the tibia. He opined that there was a direct connection between the October 30, 1970, incident and the type of injury sustained by the plaintiff.

On cross-examination of the plaintiff, regarding a deposition taken on August 21, 1972, he was asked if he had answered "No," to the question "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" He responded affirmatively and admitted that he had been convicted of armed robbery on April 29, 1964, and was imprisoned for violation of parole.

In addition to this testimony, plaintiff introduced a study conducted by C.T.A. regarding criminal incidents at the subject station and platform as well as two adjacent stations, covering a 1-year period preceding the subject assault, i.e., October 30, 1969, to October 1970. The findings of the study were as follows:

(1) Damen-North-Milwaukee station — on July 24, 1970 at 3:10 p.m., a woman passenger was held up by two youths;

(2) Western station — on June 6, 1970 at 5:25 p.m., two men held up agent; on September 16, 1970 at 2:30 p.m., a man with a gun held up agent;

(3) Division station — none.

At the close of plaintiff's case, defendant made a motion for directed verdict which was denied. The jury found for the plaintiff and returned a verdict of $5000. Defendant's post-trial motion was denied, and it appeals.

The defendant contends that plaintiff failed to establish by a clear preponderance of the evidence (a) that the assault was reasonably foreseeable, and (b) that it could have been prevented but defendant failed to do so. Defendant argues that the study admitted into evidence was not sufficient to give notice to it of anticipated dangers, and, consequently, it had no duty to guard the platform. It concludes that the verdict of the jury is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

Additionally, C.T.A. contends that plaintiff was impeached by proof of his conviction of an infamous crime, and that both he and his brother were impeached by prior inconsistent statements. It concludes that their testimony was unclear, unconvincing, and unworthy of belief. Thus, defendant argues that plaintiff failed to prove his case by a preponderance of the evidence. Relying on Pedrick v. Peoria & Eastern R.R. Co. (1967), 37 Ill.2d 494, 229 N.E.2d ...

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