APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT
540 N.E.2d 823, 185 Ill. App. 3d 1, 132 Ill. Dec. 901 1989.IL.862
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Richard E. Eagleton, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court. DUNN and INGLIS, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCLAREN
Plaintiffs appeal from a grant of summary judgment entered in favor of defendant. Plaintiffs contend that there were 18 material issues of fact which precluded summary judgment. We disagree and affirm.
On February 7, 1987, defendant was washing her car in her driveway, and plaintiff, Marilee Alcorn, walked by. They began discussing some silk flowers which plaintiff was to arrange for defendant in a brass planter. Defendant asked plaintiff, "Would you like to look at this container?" and plaintiff replied, "[Let] me see it." Defendant then proceeded through the garage doorway into the kitchen. She went out onto the porch, got the planter, closed the porch door, and returned to the kitchen doorway with the planter in hand. At that point, she saw plaintiff enter through the garage doorway. Defendant did not know plaintiff had followed her into the house and was surprised to see plaintiff entering the hallway through the doorway.
The descriptive characteristics of the hallway connecting the garage and kitchen have been clearly elaborated. Photographs of the hallway have been submitted as exhibits. The entrance into the hallway from the garage contains one separate step and the floor of the hallway. The stairway to the basement is immediately adjacent to the door to the garage and along the left wall of the hallway as a person enters the premises from the garage. A door has never been installed in front of the basement stairway, and, therefore, the stairway remains open. The floor of the hallway is covered by a light-colored, no-wax Congoleum linoleum. The area of the hallway floor directly in front of the stairs has dimensions of 3 feet 2 inches (38 inches) in width and 4 feet 5 inches (53 inches) in length. This area does not constitute a separate landing for the basement stairs. The surface of the hallway floor is on a single, integrated plane proceeding to the kitchen.
Defendant testified that plaintiff entered the hallway, placed her right foot on or near the throw rug, and positioned her left foot approximately two inches over the edge of the top step of the stairway. The left foot was placed upon a metal strip on the top step of the stairway. Thereafter, plaintiff lost her balance and fell down the basement stairway immediately to her left, suffering injuries. The rug did not slip or move preceding the fall. Defendant did not give any warnings about the basement stairway to plaintiff as plaintiff entered through the garage door.
The lighting conditions in the hallway permitted an individual to become aware of the presence of the stairway. Immediately opposite the stairway, a door with a glass window had been installed which permits entrance into a glass-enclosed porch. The light from the porch shines into the basement stairway. Josephine Stepzinski related that the hallway was well lit at the time of the occurrence. Mary Osborne, a neighbor, entered the hallway and proceeded to the basement shortly after the occurrence. Mary Osborne testified that the visibility in the area was "all right" and "bright enough to see."
Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The affidavit of defendant and the depositions of the plaintiffs, defendant, and Mary Osborne were annexed as exhibits. The court granted summary judgment, finding "[that] the undisputed facts show Defendant had no duty to warn and no duty to enclose the stairway; and they do not support negligent distraction of Plaintiff, MARILEE ALCORN, by Defendant."
The plaintiffs raise 18 issues contending the issues are of material fact. Rather than address each issue on its merits or lack thereof, we will address the findings contained in the judgment order. We find that the 18 issues fail to raise material issues of fact. In this case, defendant is and was the only competent witness to present testimony as to how the incident occurred. Plaintiff, Marilee, experienced retrograde amnesia and could recall nothing concerning the events of the entire day of February 7, 1987. Furthermore, no expert testimony was submitted to suggest some danger or hazard beyond the ken of an ordinary person. For the reasons stated below, the trial court was correct when it found that the facts were undisputed and concluded that as a matter of law there was no negligent distraction by defendant nor duties extant.
"A motion for summary judgment will be granted if the pleadings, depositions, admissions and affidavits on file reveal that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment or decree as a matter of law. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 57(3); Carruthers v. B.C. Christopher & Co., 57 Ill. 2d 376.) A reviewing court must reverse an ...