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08/29/89 Sharon Shoemaker, v. Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke

August 29, 1989





543 N.E.2d 1014, 187 Ill. App. 3d 1040, 135 Ill. Dec. 446 1989.IL.1326

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


JUSTICE DiVITO delivered the opinion of the court. BILANDIC, P.J., and HARTMAN, J., concur.


Plaintiff-appellant, Sharon Shoemaker, appeals from an order of the circuit court granting defendant-appellee, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center (Rush), summary judgment in a personal injury action. She contends that the circuit court erred in: (1) not affording her sufficient time to answer the motion for summary judgment; (2) granting summary judgment where a genuine issue of fact existed; and (3) granting summary judgment despite Rush's duty to prevent injury caused even by natural accumulations of water in its building.

Plaintiff's left leg had been amputated just below the knee in June 1984. In August 1984, she had been fitted for a prosthesis. In September 1984, she was a graduate nursing student at Rush.

On September 29, 1984, at about noon, plaintiff entered one of Rush's buildings, the Professional Building. On that day, she was not wearing her prosthesis, but was walking with the aid of crutches. She took the elevator to the fourth floor of the Professional Building. As she exited the elevator, she put her crutches on the floor inside the elevator and her foot on the floor outside the elevator. When she put her crutches down the next time on the floor outside the elevator, the left crutch went out from under her and she fell and struck her stump, causing the injury which gave rise to this lawsuit.

Plaintiff was deposed on November 6, 1987. She stated that it had been raining on the day of the accident from the time she left her home in the morning. She had fallen four hours earlier, in another location, due to the accumulation of water. She noticed that the sidewalks were wet, that people were tracking water into Rush's building, and that they were shaking off their coats and umbrellas inside the building. Plaintiff recalled that the floor of the elevator was wet. She described the floor where she fell as either "linoleum or polished concrete or something." She stated that there was a small lobby in front of the elevators which was wet. She described the water on which she fell as "little puddles, sprinkles, anywhere from half an inch wide to two inches wide." She stated that if there was a handrail outside the elevator, she would not have used it.

A motion for summary judgment, pursuant to section 2-1005 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-1005), was filed by Rush on March 30, 1988. Copies of pertinent portions of plaintiff's deposition, the complaint, and an affidavit of the building operator for the Professional Building were attached to the motion. The building operator stated that no nursing classes occurred in the building; that no rehabilitation facilities were located within the premises, such that it would be likely that a person would walk in on crutches or use prosthetic devices; and that there were handrails along the hallways.

On August 25, 1988, the circuit court considered the briefs and evidentiary material which had been filed and heard argument on the motion. The court then granted Rush's motion for summary judgment. In rendering its decision, the trial court found that the facts were not in dispute and that "no duty was owed to this plaintiff by this defendant to remove the natural accumulations of water upon which she slipped."

It is from this order that on August 26, 1988, plaintiff appealed to this court. I

Arguing that the motion was insufficient as a matter of law, plaintiff initially filed a motion to strike the motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff argues that after the trial court denied her motion to strike, it should have then allowed her an opportunity to answer the motion. Rush maintains the trial court gave plaintiff more than ample opportunity to contest the motion for summary judgment.

The record shows that plaintiff was afforded sufficient opportunity to respond to the motion for summary judgment. Rush filed its motion for summary judgment on March 30, 1988. Plaintiff filed her motion to strike based on legal insufficiency, on June 2, 1988. On June 20, 1988, the court denied plaintiff's motion to strike. On the same day, the record shows that the court explained that if plaintiff's basis for opposing the summary judgment was due to its legal insufficiency and if she were relying upon facts not in the record, then she was to file counterevidentiary material under section 2-1005 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-1005.) Pursuant to plaintiff's request for leave to file a supplemental answer, the court granted her, in accordance with ...

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