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06/08/89 Ronald J. Griglione, v. the Town of Long Point

June 8, 1989

RONALD J. GRIGLIONE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

THE TOWN OF LONG POINT, A/K/A LONG POINT TOWNSHIP, DEFENDANT (LIVINGSTON COUNTY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE)



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

539 N.E.2d 1348, 184 Ill. App. 3d 20, 132 Ill. Dec. 542 1989.IL.869

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Livingston County; the Hon. Harold J. Frobish, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and GREEN, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE KNECHT

This case arose from a one-car accident that occurred on the evening of August 3, 1985. Plaintiff was travelling westbound on a township road which forms a T-intersection with a north-south county road. Plaintiff travelled through the intersection into a ditch on the west side of the county road and suffered personal injuries. The stop sign controlling traffic from the township road at the intersection with the county road was obscured by vegetative growth. Plaintiff appeals from the order of the circuit court of Livingston County which granted a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant County of Livingston. The issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the county where the facts show weeds along a township road obscured a stop sign, which stands within the county's right-of-way, at an intersection with a county road.

At approximately 9 p.m. on the date of the occurrence, plaintiff was driving west on Township Road 2250, northeast of where that road ends at a T-intersection with County Road 300 east in Livingston County, when he saw a barricade on the west side of the T-intersection with the county highway and realized he would have to stop. Plaintiff alleged approximately 200 feet east of the T-intersection he locked the brakes of his vehicle, it skidded through the intersection, snapped planking from the barricade while his foot was still on the brakes, became airborne over a ditch, and he suffered personal injuries upon the vehicle's landing in the ditch. Plaintiff had never travelled on the township road before. Plaintiff also alleged he was driving with the high beams on his headlights at a speed of between 50 and 55 miles per hour when the incident occurred.

The view of the stop sign at the intersection on the date of the occurrence was obstructed by ragweed 5 to 6 feet high along the westbound lane for 50 to 60 feet. The county had installed the stop sign at that intersection. The right-of-way of the county highway extended up to 16 feet east of the stop sign. There was no evidence that the county had agreed to maintain the township roadway or that it had maintained the township roadway previously. In a discovery deposition, the county superintendent of highways for Livingston County, John Bourne, testified the county had the responsibility to maintain the county right-of-way. In addition, the highway commissioner of Long Point Township, Leroy Woltzen, testified in a discovery deposition the county was required to maintain the stop sign area. There was no warning sign on the township road to the east of the stop sign.

After the accident, the county sheriff notified the township of the growth of weeds along the road and the township dispatched its employees to cut the weeds.

Plaintiff's complaint in count II alleged the county permitted an extensive growth of ragweed to obscure the traffic sign controlling traffic proceeding in a westerly direction on Township Road 2250 north at the intersection of County Road 300 east; failed to properly maintain the T-intersection; and failed to properly inspect the T-intersection. On May 22, 1986, defendant county filed its motion to dismiss count II of plaintiff's complaint. On June 19, 1986, the township filed its motion to dismiss count I of plaintiff's complaint. On September 18, 1986, the trial court entered an order striking plaintiff's complaint, counts I and II. That same day, defendant filed its motion to dismiss count II of plaintiff's amended complaint on two grounds: plaintiff failed to allege actual or constructive notice of the existence of the condition claimed in sufficient time for defendant to have taken measures against such condition; and plaintiff failed to charge any negligence by defendant. On September 30, 1986, the trial court entered an order dismissing plaintiff's amended count II, stating the amended count II was defective because it failed to plead requisite notice and plaintiff's charge that defendant county failed to properly inspect and maintain the T-intersection was vague, overbroad, and conclusive. Plaintiff finally filed the amended complaint on October 2, 1986.

Count II of plaintiff's amended complaint alleged defendant permitted an extensive growth of ragweed to obscure the stop sign controlling traffic proceeding in a westerly direction along Township Road 2250 north at the intersection of County Road 300 east; the county failed to properly inspect and maintain the T-intersection; and the county failed to properly inspect and maintain the T-intersection so as to ascertain the stop sign on the township road was obscured by ragweed not less than 10 feet high. On November 17, 1986, plaintiff filed a second-amended complaint in which he alleged the county had notice of the offending condition. In this regard, Bourne, the Livingston County superintendent of highways, testified in a discovery deposition a county employee, Robert Stottle, was at the intersection three days before the occurrence but did not notice the brush.

On March 9, 1988, Long Point Township filed a motion for summary judgment which alleged the stop sign was erected by Livingston County on the county's right-of-way and the township's duty to the county's right-of-way was discretionary. On March 29, 1988, the county filed its motion for summary judgment which claimed the only actual allegations of negligence were contained in the second-amended complaint and asserted the road was part of the township highway system, not the county highway system.

On May 31, 1988, the court entered its order which denied the motion for summary judgment presented by the township. In addition, the court granted the county's March 29 motion for summary judgment. The order stated the court found plaintiff did not establish a duty on the part of the county to prevent ragweed from obscuring the stop sign in question or to warn of the same. The court stated the stop sign appeared to be within the county right-of-way and the county installed the stop sign, but concluded those two factors did not create a duty on the part of Livingston County to maintain the roadway or shoulders along the township road.

On June 9, 1988, plaintiff filed his motion to vacate the court's order entered on May 31, 1988. On August 19, 1988, the trial court entered an order denying plaintiff's motion to reconsider the summary judgment order entered in favor of the county. On September 27, 1988, plaintiff moved to dismiss count I of plaintiff's complaint brought against defendant Long Point Township. An order was entered which ...


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