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Robin v. Miller

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 13, 1978.

DAVID ROBIN ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

DOROTHY J. MILLER, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



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

MISS JUSTICE MCGILLICUDDY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The plaintiffs, David Robin, Edward Randell and Jill Randell, brought this action against Dorothy Miller to recover damages for injuries suffered as a result of an automobile accident. The case was tried before a jury and a verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding damages of $14,000 to Robin, $800 to Edward Randell and $100 to Jill Randell. A judgment order was entered on the verdict. Robin and Edward appeal from the judgment entered contesting the sufficiency of their damage awards.

Edward Randell testified that the accident occurred at 8 p.m. on December 3, 1970, at approximately 3300 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. At this location the drive has four northbound lanes and four southbound lanes separated by a grass-covered median strip approximately 30 feet wide. He testified that he heard a loud crash, and immediately thereafter the Wallace car, which was to his left, crashed into the left front of his car. This second impact caused the Randell car to be pushed to the right colliding with the Robin vehicle. Jill Randell's and Robin's testimony was substantially the same as the testimony of Edward Randell. Wallace testified that as he was driving north in the lane closest to the median strip, he saw lights from the Miller car coming toward him across the median strip. The Miller car struck his automobile and the impact caused him to strike several cars as he went across the northbound lanes.

Miller, who was called to testify as an adverse party, stated that she was traveling in the easternmost southbound lane on Lake Shore Drive when a car entered the southbound lanes at 31st Street. This car crossed into the lane next to the one in which she was driving, but its left turn signal continued to flash. Miller claims she followed this car for approximately five or six minutes. Suddenly it crossed into her lane, causing her to collide with it. According to Miller only two automobiles were involved in the accident, and both cars were traveling south. As to the identity of the driver of the car which allegedly cut her off, the following colloquy took place:

"Q. [Plaintiff's attorney]. And you found out that the driver of the car which cut you off, was David Wallace, didn't you?

A [Miller]. That's what — who he said he was.

Q. That's the name he gave you? That's the name he gave the police, didn't he?

A. I think it was David L. Wallace."

According to Wallace's testimony, Miller, Wallace and his wife went to Michael Reese Hospital in an ambulance following the accident. Robin also went to Michael Reese, but was driven by a spotter for a towing company who had stopped at the scene of the accident. The Randells drove to Skokie Valley Hospital, which was located near their home. Miller, however, claimed that she was driven to Michael Reese in a police patrol car with the Wallaces and another young man named Samuel Lee.

Robin claimed that as a result of the accident he sustained a permanent injury to his left wrist. At the hospital, following the collision, X rays were taken of his left wrist, head and neck, and he was examined by a staff doctor who wrapped the wrist in a bandage. The next day Dr. Samuel Willens placed Robin's arm in a cast. The cast was removed about five weeks later. After a few weeks, the wrist was still painful and he was unable to move it. About 10 weeks after the accident, a second cast was placed on the wrist for an additional five weeks. He also received steroid injections from Dr. Willens. The wrist has a cracking or grating sound. After the second cast was removed, Robin was fitted with a brace, which he wears every day.

Two treating orthopedic surgeons testified as to the extent of Robin's injuries, Dr. Samuel E. Willens and Dr. Shahan K. Sarrafian. Dr. Willens stated that he examined and treated Robin on several occasions between the time of the accident and May 1971. He also saw Robin in July 1975. In his examinations he found Robin's wrist to be painful and a clicking sound was produced whenever Robin attempted to move it. Dr. Willens diagnosed Robin's condition as "a disrupture of the radiocarpal and inner carpal articulation" with "some cartilage damage to the articular surface." He stated his belief that this condition is related to the automobile accident and is permanent in nature. Dr. Willens also testified that while several surgical treatments were available to relieve the condition they would result in at least some loss in the mobility of the hand and wrist.

Dr. Sarrafian testified that he examined Robin on several occasions between April 1971 and May 1975. In addition to X ray studies, he conducted extensive kinesiological examinations of the wrist, which consisted of motion studies. He also performed exploratory surgery on Robin's wrist in April 1972. His diagnosis entered on the hospital records following that surgery was that Robin had suffered a "mild chondromalacia" in the wrist. This condition, he felt, was the result of a trauma and the subsequent healing process in the area of the "capitate, third metacarpal and trapezoid." He was unable to diagnose the source of the clicking sounds. Dr. Sarrafian concluded that it was possible the condition in Robin's wrist was causally related to the automobile accident and that it was probably a permanent injury. It was his opinion that Robin should have further medical observation and further medical consultations.

At the time of the accident Robin was enrolled in the Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University. He was also employed as a guitarist at the Candlelight Theatre. He had played the guitar since he was eight years old and had been a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians since he was 16. He graduated from Roosevelt University in June 1971.

Robin claimed that the injury to his left wrist interfered with his ability to play the guitar. Following the removal of the second cast, he could practice a little after limbering his arm up with exercises, but his playing had deteriorated. He did not play professionally again until late 1971, when he worked two engagements, each for a period of two weeks. He next worked for a musician/agent named Don Winther, who had been familiar with Robin's playing prior to the time of the collision. Robin played with ...


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