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08/30/89 Laurel Loughnane, v. the City of Chicago

August 30, 1989

LAUREL LOUGHNANE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

545 N.E.2d 150, 188 Ill. App. 3d 1078, 136 Ill. Dec. 626 1989.IL.1336

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Paddy McNamara, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court. RIZZI and CERDA, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE FREEMAN

Plaintiff, Laurel Loughnane, sued defendant, the City of Chicago, for a broken ankle sustained when she fell on a sidewalk at 610 South Michigan Avenue. At the close of plaintiff's case in chief, the trial court directed a verdict against defendant on the issue of liability. After trial, a jury returned a verdict for plaintiff in the amount of $158,996, which it reduced to $135,146.60 after finding plaintiff 15% negligent. Defendant appeals the judgment entered on the verdict and the denial of its post-trial motion.

Prior to trial, the trial court granted plaintiff's motion in limine to prohibit defendant from presenting any evidence, including a Chicago police hospitalization case report, that plaintiff's fall was caused by ice on the sidewalk in front of 610 South Michigan.

The hospitalization case report stated that "[i]n summary, victim slipped on the icy pavement in front of 624 [ sic ] South Michigan." The trial court disagreed with defendant that the report was admissible as the reporting police officers' past recollection recorded.

The order also barred defendant from introducing a climatological report for the month of January 1982 showing that the Fahrenheit temperature ranged from 13 degrees below zero to 13 degrees above zero and that five inches of snow fell at O'Hare Airport (O'Hare) on January 26. The report, an official publication of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was a monthly summary of local climatological data compiled and certified by the National Climactic Center in North Carolina. In ruling that the summary was irrelevant to any issue in the case, the trial court stated that it would allow it only if the accident had occurred in the middle of a corn field or rural area near O'Hare. The trial court also noted that defendant had not availed itself of an opportunity to obtain more relevant, direct evidence by deposing three eyewitnesses and asking whether there was any ice or snow at the scene of plaintiff's fall.

At trial, plaintiff testified that she left her office at 624 South Michigan Avenue on January 26, 1982, to buy a newspaper at the Americana Congress Hotel. Plaintiff walked north on the Michigan Avenue sidewalk, which she knew to be broken in several places. As she did so, plaintiff was looking straight ahead. In the course of her walk, plaintiff stepped into a hole, twisting her left foot. She then stumbled and fell, landing on her seat. After being helped to her feet by passersby, plaintiff discovered that she could not put any weight on her left foot. The pavement where plaintiff fell was dry. After being helped to her office, plaintiff went to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital emergency room. On cross-examination, plaintiff described the hole into which she fell as an inch or two deep.

At the close of plaintiff's testimony, defendant moved to bar introduction at trial of the evidence deposition of Dr. Lee Tisa, who first treated plaintiff in March 1985, on the ground that plaintiff did not disclose Dr. Tisa's identity at the time of her discovery deposition in July 1985. Defendant informed the trial court that it had not learned of Dr. Tisa's identity until receipt, a week before trial, of a notice from plaintiff's counsel of the taking of Dr. Tisa's evidence deposition. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that defendant should have submitted supplemental interrogatories to plaintiff.

Opinion

On appeal, defendant first contends the trial court erred in barring the climatological summary showing the weather conditions at O'Hare on January 26, 1982.

Weather reports, such as the climatological summary, are generally held admissible by the majority of jurisdictions. (See generally Annot., 57 A.L.R.3d 713, ยง 3 (1974).) This rule is followed in Illinois. (See Chicago & Eastern Illinois R.R. Co. v. Zapp (1903), 110 Ill. App. 553, 556, aff'd (1904), 209 Ill. 339, 70 N.E. 623; Battershell v. Bowman Dairy Co. (1961), 37 Ill. App. 2d 193, 203, 185 N.E.2d 340.) Specifically, weather reports have been admitted in Illinois where they had a tendency to refute testimony of the character of weather conditions on a particular date, although no readings or observations were made at the precise moment of an accident. (Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co. v. Trayes (1885), 17 Ill. App. 136, 140.) Moreover, the distance of the recording station from the scene of an ...


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