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08/25/89 Ernestina Enriquez, As v. the City of Chicago

August 25, 1989

AL., MINORS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS

v.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SIXTH DIVISION

ERNESTINA ENRIQUEZ, as Special Adm'r of the Estate of

Antonio Enriquez, and on her own behalf and as Mother

and Next Friend of Antonio Enriquez, Jr., et

543 N.E.2d 905, 187 Ill. App. 3d 1110, 135 Ill. Dec. 337 1989.IL.1316

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas E. Hoffman, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE QUINLAN delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA and La PORTA, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE QUINLAN

Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against the City of Chicago (City) for the death of Antonio Enriquez, who died as a result of an automobile accident on a bridge owned and operated by the City. Plaintiffs alleged that the City was negligent in allowing the bridge to become icy and that Enriquez was killed as a proximate result of the city's negligence. The circuit court of Cook County granted summary judgment for the City and denied plaintiffs' countermotion for summary judgment, finding that the City was immune from liability for the icy condition of the bridge. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 85, par. 3-105.) Plaintiffs now appeal that decision. We affirm.

On November 20, 1981, at approximately 11 p.m., Antonio Enriquez was traveling west on 106th Street in Chicago. A car driven by Javier Bermea was traveling east on the same street. As both vehicles were crossing a bridge located at 3228 East 106th Street, Bermea's vehicle slid on ice which had accumulated on the bridge. Bermea's car slid into the lane of oncoming traffic and collided with Enriquez's car. Enriquez died as a result of this accident.

Thereafter, Ernestina Enriquez, as special administrator of the estate of Antonio Enriquez, and on her own behalf and as a mother and next friend of Antonio Enriquez, Jr., Carlos Enriquez, Alberto Enriquez and Guadalupe Enriquez, minors, and Maria Del Carmen Enriquez (plaintiffs), filed a six-count wrongful death action against Javier Bermea, Eleazar Bermea (Javier's father), and the City of Chicago. Counts V and VI were directed against the City and are the only counts involved in this appeal.

Count V of plaintiffs' complaint was brought on behalf of the estate of Antonio Enriquez, and count VI was brought on behalf of the decedent's next of kin. In those counts, plaintiffs alleged: that the City had control and possession of the bridge where the accident occurred; the City negligently allowed the bridge to become covered with an unnatural accumulation of ice and snow; the City knew or should have known in the exercise of ordinary care that the bridge was in a dangerous condition due to the ice; the City failed to close the bridge to traffic even though the bridge was in a dangerous condition; and the City failed to warn motorists of the bridge's dangerous condition. Plaintiffs then alleged that Enriquez was killed as a proximate result of the City's negligence.

In its answer, the City admitted that it owned and controlled the bridge where Enriquez was killed and that it had a duty to maintain the bridge in a reasonably safe condition. The City denied, however, that it was negligent or that any act or omission on its part was the proximate cause of Enriquez's death. The City, in its answers to plaintiff's interrogatories, said that it employed two bridge tenders at the bridge in question at all times. The City also said that there were no signs posted on 106th Street, near the bridge, warning that the bridge was slippery and icy.

Several depositions were also taken in connection with this case. Officer William Bratek, a Chicago police officer who was assigned to the "Major Accident Investigation" section of the department on November 20, 1981, was among those who gave a deposition. Bratek testified that he was called to the scene of the accident between Enriquez and Bermea and saw two vehicles on the east side of the bridge. Bratek said that 106th Street was dry and ...


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