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08/10/87 Annaliese K. Sloan, v. Lisa O'dell

August 10, 1987





512 N.E.2d 105, 159 Ill. App. 3d 268, 111 Ill. Dec. 201 1987.IL.1149

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Helen C. Kinney, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE NASH delivered the opinion of the court. LINDBERG, P.J., and INGLIS, J., concur.


Plaintiff, Annaliese K. Sloan, appeals from the judgment entered upon the verdict of a jury in favor of defendant, Lisa O'Dell, in an action brought for the recovery of damages sustained in a collision between automobiles driven by the parties. Plaintiff contends: (1) that the trial court erroneously denied plaintiff's motion for a directed verdict as to liability; (2) that the verdict was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence; (3) that the court erred in its instructions to the jury and its ruling on prejudicial argument to the jury made by defendant. We affirm.

On February 9, 1984, plaintiff and defendant were involved in an automobile collision at or near the intersection of Smith and Munger Roads in unincorporated Du Page County. Plaintiff's theory of the case is that defendant's vehicle crossed the center line and struck plaintiff's vehicle head-on approximately 200 feet east of the intersection. Defendant argues that the collision occurred near the intersection when plaintiff failed to yield the right-of-way to the defendant when plaintiff entered Smith Road and turned left in front of defendant's vehicle.

At trial, plaintiff testified that she was southbound on Munger Road and stopped at the stop sign at the intersection of Munger and Smith, a "T" intersection. Plaintiff stated that as there were bushes on the northeast corner, she had to inch her vehicle forward into the intersection in order to get a better view of Smith Road before making a left turn. Once plaintiff completed her turn and was eastbound on Smith Road, she noticed an automobile traveling toward her westbound in the middle of the road. She veered to the right to avoid the oncoming vehicle, which struck her automobile on the driver's side and pushed it backwards into the intersection, where it ran over the stop sign and came to rest. Plaintiff testified that the collision occurred just before the speed limit sign on Smith Road, approximately 200 to 300 feet from the intersection. She did not know the speed of the other vehicle or its distance when she first saw it.

Plaintiff's son, Michael Webb, testified that he was a passenger in the automobile driven by the defendant. Webb was defendant's boyfriend at the time of the collision, and on that day, had an argument with her at plaintiff's house. They left in defendant's automobile, taking Wiant Road to Smith Road, where, as Webb testified, defendant turned onto Smith Road and "floored it," accelerating to around 95 miles per hour. He testified that at the time of impact with plaintiff's automobile, defendant was driving in the center of the road and was going 80 to 85 miles per hour. Plaintiff's vehicle was in her own lane of travel, and the collision took place near the speed limit sign on Smith Road. The impact pushed plaintiff's vehicle backwards approximately 200 feet, while defendant's vehicle proceeded into the intersection, where both vehicles came to rest.

Paulette Olson, plaintiff's neighbor, witnessed the collision from approximately one-fourth of a mile away as she was proceeding west on Smith Road. Before the impact, defendant's automobile was traveling between the westbound lane and the center of the road. Olson did not see the collision, but she saw plaintiff's vehicle slide backwards through the intersection. Olson also stated that bushes growing at the intersection obstructed visibility from Munger Road as well as Smith Road.

Defendant testified that she was traveling over 30 miles per hour along Smith Road, but not over 40. She stated that she was in the westbound lane at all times and did not change her lane. She first saw plaintiff's vehicle seconds before the impact and, as she was momentarily rendered unconscious, she did not remember the collision or getting out of her vehicle afterwards. She testified that the impact occurred just before the intersection; however, she did not remember the relative positions of plaintiff's vehicle and her own. A police officer spoke to the defendant at the hospital, but she did not recall saying anything to him.

The emergency room physician testified that when he examined defendant at the hospital, she denied having lost consciousness in the collision.

Du Page County sheriff's deputy Larry Weiss testified that he arrived at the scene of the collision after the ambulance had departed and that he took a statement from Michael Webb. Weiss did not have any independent recollection whether there was debris at the scene, and his testimony identifying debris shown in a photograph of the scene was stricken by the court. Officer Weiss went on to testify that he remained at the scene until the vehicles were removed and the debris was cleared away. At the hospital, he spoke with the defendant, who related that she had been westbound on Smith Road when the plaintiff pulled out from Munger Road in front of her.

William Spellman, a newspaper photographer, took photographs of the scene which were received into evidence and which depict the subject intersection and the two vehicles at the location where they came to rest. Plaintiff's vehicle is positioned at the northwest corner of the intersection, facing southwest, while defendant's vehicle is positioned in the middle of the intersection, facing southeast. Spellman testified that the photographs show debris at the intersection; however, he could not state ...

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