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12/30/88 the City of Kankakee, v. Jeanette Vreeman

December 30, 1988

THE CITY OF KANKAKEE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

JEANETTE VREEMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

532 N.E.2d 1058, 177 Ill. App. 3d 835, 127 Ill. Dec. 229 1988.IL.1951

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County; the Hon. Patrick M. Burns, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE SCOTT delivered the opinion of the court. HEIPLE, J., concurs. JUSTICE BARRY, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SCOTT

The plaintiff, the City of Kankakee, appeals from the granting of a directed verdict in favor of the defendant, Jeanette Vreeman. We reverse.

The city sued the defendant for negligence following a traffic accident in which the defendant and a police officer collided. According to the certified report of proceedings, Officer Ronald Riml of the Kankakee police department testified in a jury trial that on February 9, 1984, while he was on duty in the parking lot of the River Oaks Restaurant on East Court Street in Kankakee, he heard a radio dispatch requesting another unit to investigate a possible burglary. Riml was an assistant shift supervisor, so he decided to respond to the call to make sure that the other officers followed proper procedures.

As Office Riml pulled out of the parking area he turned on his lights and siren. The siren was in a manual mode, so that it was not constantly on but only sounded a short burst when he pressed the button. He turned west onto the inside lane of Court Street. At this point he was 1 1/2 blocks from the intersection of Fairmont and Court Streets.

When the officer was a half block away from the intersection of Fairmont and Court, he saw that the traffic light was red. He decided to go through the intersection. As he proceeded he saw a car driven by the defendant go into the intersection. He turned on his siren, put on the brakes, and swerved to the right. He collided with the defendant on the right side of her car, pushing her into another car. The officer then got out and discussed the accident with the defendant.

The officer estimated that at the time of the accident he had been traveling approximately 25 to 30 miles per hour. He stated that the road was clear and dry.

The defendant then testified as an adverse witness. She stated that she was proceeding north on Fairmont when the accident occurred. She did not see a flashing red light or hear a siren until an instant before impact.

Raymond McGinnis testified that he had been driving west on Court Street at the time of the accident. He saw a squad car using its red lights and siren pull out onto Court Street, travel west for about one block, then suddenly brake and hit a car in the intersection. He said that the squad car had its red lights on as it approached the intersection; he did not recall the lights or siren being turned off before the collision. After the accident the officer asked him if the lights and siren had been on.

Debra Wendell testified that at the time of the accident she was stopped at the intersection of Fairmont and Court, headed south. There were cars in the innermost lane of Court Street waiting to turn into McDonald's. When she glanced to the left she saw a police car coming with its red lights on. She could not recall if the siren was on, although she admitted that in a prior statement to the city's insurance company she had stated that the siren ...


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