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King v. Casad

OPINION FILED MARCH 30, 1984.

JENNIFER L. KING, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

JAMES R. CASAD, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Creed D. Tucker, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied April 16, 1984.

Plaintiff Jennifer King appeals from a judgment in the circuit court of Champaign County awarding her $5,000 in damages for personal injuries she received when she was struck by defendant's vehicle. The issue for our review is whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the standard of care required of a 15-year-old bicyclist is the ordinary care standard of Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction (IPI), Civil, No. 10.03 (2d ed. 1971). We hold that it was error and reverse and remand for a new trial.

On October 1, 1980, plaintiff filed suit against defendant for damages for personal injuries she sustained when the bicycle she was riding was struck by defendant's pickup truck at the intersection of First and Green streets in Champaign. Plaintiff alleged that the defendant had failed to obey a red traffic light, decrease his speed to avoid a collision, yield the right-of-way, and keep a proper lookout.

At trial, plaintiff testified that she was 15 years old at the time of the accident. She stated that she was riding her bicycle south on First Street in Champaign heading toward a grocery store on the southwestern side of First and Green. Plaintiff related that as she approached the intersection the light for her was green. She had an unobstructed view to her right and noticed defendant's truck approaching the intersection. She assumed that defendant's vehicle would stop at the red light and proceeded into the intersection. After she was in the intersection, the traffic light changed to yellow, and she stated that she felt she could not stop in the middle of the intersection because it was not safe. She observed defendant's vehicle, realized he was not going to stop and turned the bicycle to the left. The last-moment maneuvering was of no avail, and defendant's front left fender struck plaintiff.

Defendant testified that he was traveling east on Green Street and stopped at the red light at the intersection. He stated that he stopped at the light and remained there for a short period; the light turned green, he looked to the north and proceeded into the intersection when he collided with plaintiff. Defendant claimed that he did not see plaintiff although he looked in the direction from which she was coming.

At the jury instruction conference, plaintiff's counsel tendered a combined IPI instruction taken from IPI Civil No. 10.05 and IPI Civil No. A10.03 (1981 Supp.). As tendered, this instruction provided:

"A minor is not held to the same standard of conduct as an adult. When I use the words `ordinary care' with respect to the plaintiff, I mean that degree of care which a reasonably careful minor of the age, mental capacity and experience of the plaintiff would use under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence. The law does not say how such a minor would act under those circumstances. That is for you to decide. The failure of the plaintiff to use that degree of care for her own safety is known as contributory negligence. Plaintiff's contributory negligence, if any, does not bar her recovery. However, the total amount of damages to which she would otherwise be entitled is reduced in proportion to the amount of her negligence. This is known as comparative negligence."

The trial judge rejected plaintiff's instruction No. 8, reasoning that "in today's world * * * 10.05 cannot be used in this case, because there are too many people on bicycles today that are not minors and there is no way you can tell one from another." At a later point, defendant offered IPI Civil No. 10.03, without objection by plaintiff. The jury received a computational verdict form and found plaintiff 80% at fault, assessing total damages of $25,000.

• 1 We are first confronted with the argument of the defendant that plaintiff's failure to object to his submission of IPI Civil No. 10.03, the ordinary care instruction, results in a waiver of this issue on review. Supreme Court Rule 366(b)(2)(i) and decisional law makes clear that a party may not complain of a failure to give an instruction unless the party tenders an instruction and requests that it be given. (87 Ill.2d R. 366(b)(2)(i); Grabner v. American Airlines, Inc. (1980), 81 Ill. App.3d 894, 401 N.E.2d 1196.) Conversely, a party may not allege error in the giving of an instruction unless he has made a timely objection thereto. (Millette v. Radosta (1980), 84 Ill. App.3d 5, 404 N.E.2d 823.) Defendant suggests that plaintiff had an obligation not only to tender her own "duty" instruction but also to object to his instruction after the court refused the former. Since no objection was lodged by plaintiff to defendant's alternate instruction which was submitted after the trial court's refusal of plaintiff's instruction, the defendant contends that the entire issue is not open for review.

• 2 There were only two possible IPI instructions which could have been given by the trial court on the appropriate standard of care, either IPI Civil No. 10.03 or IPI Civil No. 10.05. Both could not have been given. Plaintiff's counsel tendered the instruction he felt appropriate and upon rejection of that by the trial court, the only other instruction was IPI Civil No. 10.03. By notifying the trial court of the ground of objection and by giving the trial court an opportunity to rule on the issue, the plaintiff has satisfied the essential purposes of the waiver doctrine. (Fullerton v. Robson (1978), 61 Ill. App.3d 93, 377 N.E.2d 1044.) Applied here, we conclude that plaintiff's failure to object to the submission of defendant's instruction does not preclude her from challenging the trial court's refusal of her instruction. If error was committed on the latter, the giving of defendant's instruction was necessarily erroneous.

• 3 The principal issue on appeal is thus whether a 15-year-old bicyclist is required to exercise ordinary care for her own safety or whether the standard of care is that required of a minor.

Supreme Court Rule 239(a) requires that whenever the IPI contains an instruction applicable in a civil case, that instruction shall be used unless the court determines that it does not accurately state the law. (87 Ill.2d R. 239(a).) Plaintiff's instruction No. 8 was a combined form of IPI Civil No. 10.05 and IPI Civil No. A10.03. IPI Civil No. 10.05 is the traditional instruction defining the standard of care required of a minor, and IPI Civil No. A10.03 merely incorporates the doctrine of comparative negligence into this duty instruction. The notes on use to No. A10.03 state that "[t]he instruction should be used in conjunction with IPI 10.02 defining `ordinary care' if the plaintiff is over the age of 18 or is a minor operating a motor vehicle. If the plaintiff is a minor (and is not operating a motor vehicle), use IPI 10.05." (IPI Civil No. A10.03, at 9 (1981 Supp.).) This is precisely the procedure which plaintiff followed in the instant case.

• 4 Defendant argues that the standard of care required of a minor above the age of 14 is not accurately stated in IPI Civil No. 10.05 and that the appropriate standard is the same as applied to adults, the minor's intelligence and experience being considered. Defendant refers to the standard as the "qualified adult standard." In support of this suggestion he quotes the following language from the ...


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