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12/16/88 Melvin Pearl, Ex'r of the v. Chicago Transit Authority

December 16, 1988

MELVIN PEARL, EX'R OF THE ESTATE OF MORRIS PEARL, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY, AND HENRY BILLUPS ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION

532 N.E.2d 439, 177 Ill. App. 3d 499, 126 Ill. Dec. 754 1988.IL.1822

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Irving R. Norman, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE LORENZ delivered the opinion of the court. MURRAY and PINCHAM, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LORENZ

On July 5, 1985, plaintiff's decedent, Morris Pearl, after stepping into the pedestrian crosswalk at the southwest corner of State and Washington Streets in Chicago, was struck by a Chicago Transit Authority bus driven by Henry Billups. Pearl later died from injuries sustained. Following a jury trial for survival and wrongful death claims (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110 1/2, par. 27-6; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 70, par. 2), judgment was awarded against defendant in the amount of $437,295.26, after reduction for Pearl's comparative negligence. Defendant CTA appeals from that judgment, contending that the trial Judge improperly permitted testimony of CTA supervisory personnel relating to a post-accident review of Billups' driving, his subsequent suspension, and retraining as admissions of negligence against defendant.

We affirm.

We summarize below trial testimony pertinent to our Disposition.

At trial, David Hinman, Lester Morton, and Wayne C. Williams testified during plaintiff's case as adverse witnesses.

David Hinman, a CTA garage superintendent and acting area superintendent at the time of the accident in issue, testified that on July 9, 1985, he conducted a review of the accident involving plaintiff's decedent and prepared a disciplinary report and a suspension notice. Hinman stated that the notice of suspension recited that Billups had violated two rules contained in the CTA bus system rule book: rule B 4.3.1, pertaining to observation of intersection traffic signals and proceeding through intersections, and rule 4.6.1, requiring general adherence to defensive driving practices. With regard to the above rules, Hinman testified that, based on his past experience as a bus operator, a safe rate of speed for a bus proceeding through the intersection at Washington and State Streets at 3 to 4 p.m. would be three to five miles per hour.

Hinman stated that before being returned to service, Billups participated in a retraining program. Hinman was allowed to testify to his review of a written performance check filled out by the instructor who conducted the retraining program. Hinman stated that prior to that evaluation, Billups met CTA instruction department requirements to drive and operate a bus safely. Hinman admitted that in a deposition taken at the period of Billups' retraining, Hinman had stated that, based on the determination that Billups only had a marginal appreciation of those operating procedures cited in rules 4.3.1 and 4.6.1, Billups should not have been permitted to drive a CTA bus.

On cross-examination, Hinman stated that, in his opinion, on the day of the accident, Billups was qualified to operate a CTA bus. Hinman also stated that when an accident involving a pedestrian occurs, a CTA review is conducted.

Lester Morton, a former bus operator, supervisor, operator instructor, and, at the time of trial, controller for the CTA, testified that he prepared the special occurrence report of the subject accident. In response to questions concerning rule 4.6.1, Morton admitted that in a prior deposition he had stated that he believed Billups may not have been paying close enough attention to pedestrian traffic when the bus was entering the intersection. The special occurrence report noted that Billups failed to be alert for conditions that caused the accident and failed to utilize proper operating procedures at or near the intersection. Morton stated that he discussed defensive driving procedures with Billups, including the proper speed for a bus proceeding through the intersection at State and Washington Streets. Morton stated that the speed through any intersection, including that particular intersection, should be about three to five miles per hour. Morton stated that Billups was suspended pursuant to CTA policy to automatically remove from service and suspend a driver who is involved in a serious accident.

On cross-examination, Morton explains that the reason for automatic removal and suspension of an operator who has been involved in a serious accident is to determine whether the operator is operating the bus within CTA policy and to prevent further accidents. Morton also explained that Billups was charged with ...


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