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11/03/89 Colonial Trust and Savings v. David D. Kasmar Et Al.

November 3, 1989

ESTATE OF FRANCESCA RODRIGUEZ, DECEASED, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS

v.

DAVID D. KASMAR ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

COLONIAL TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK OF PERU, as Ex'r of the

546 N.E.2d 1112, 190 Ill. App. 3d 967, 138 Ill. Dec. 57 1989.IL.1745

Appeal from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. Thomas R. Flood, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE STOUDER delivered the opinion of the court. HEIPLE and SCOTT, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE STOUDER

The plaintiffs appeal from the judgment of the circuit court of La Salle County, denying their motions for a new trial and for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in their wrongful death and personal injury actions for damages sustained in a collision between the plaintiffs' car and the defendant's truck. On December 17, 1986, at approximately 4 p.m., Maria Rodriguez (now Maria Perez), accompanied by her mother, Francisca Rodriguez, and her sister, Christina Rocha, was driving south on U.S. 251 towards its intersection with La Salle Road in Peru, Illinois. At that intersection, which is the scene of the collision, U.S. 251 has two principal southbound lanes with additional left- and right-turn lanes for traffic preparing to enter La Salle Road and two principal northbound lanes, also with additional left- and right-turn lanes for traffic preparing to enter La Salle Road. Islands divide the north and southbound lanes on both sides of the intersection. The intersection is controlled by traffic lights, including left-turn signals for traffic turning onto La Salle Road. "Left Turn Yield on Green" signs are displayed to both the north and southbound traffic. The speed limit for the north and southbound traffic is 45 miles per hour.

Approximately 360 feet south of this intersection is another intersection of U.S. 251 with entrance and exit ramps for Interstate 80 traffic. Continuing south from the collision intersection, U.S. 251 upgrades to pass traffic over Interstate 80.

Maria Perez testified that immediately prior to her entering of the intersection to turn left onto La Salle Road, she saw the defendant's truck coming up "the hill." She could not give an estimate as to the speed of the truck. She turned her left-turn signal on and proceeded into her turn. She was travelling at approximately 10 to 15 miles per hour. She testified that she had the green arrow and that the arrow did not change as she entered the intersection. To travel through the intersection, her car had to pass through the width of the island divider and two northbound lanes of traffic. When her car had reached the eastmost of the northbound lanes, she looked up and saw the radiator of the defendant's truck through the passenger window.

The driver of the truck, David Kasmar, testified that on the day of the collision, it had been raining off and on, and the roadway was wet. He testified that as he was coasting down the hill towards the collision intersection, he had a solid green light. He was travelling at approximately 30 miles per hour as he crested the hill. The tractor-trailer which he was driving weighed approximately 21,200 pounds. He testified that he first saw Perez's car when it was in the left-turn lane and when he was approximately 200 feet south of the collision intersection. He estimates that his speed at that time was 25 miles per hour.

Kasmar testified that when he was approximately 120 to 150 feet from the intersection, the light was still green for northbound traffic, and Perez's car was proceeding to turn onto La Salle Road. Kasmar stepped on the brake pedal. He testified that it took between 1 1/2 to 2 seconds for the brakes to lock up and that the rear brakes were the first to lock up. The truck skidded into Perez's car, striking its right front fender and right door. Kasmar estimated that his speed at impact was 20 miles per hour.

Perez's mother, Francesca Rodriguez, who was sitting in the front passenger's seat, was killed instantly. Perez's sister, Christina Rocha, who was sitting in the back seat, suffered serious injuries. She is now a paraplegic. Perez also suffered injuries and was hospitalized for nearly a week.

Eric Sartain witnessed the collision. He first noticed Kasmar's truck when he passed through the intersection south of Interstate 80. When the light turned green at that intersection, Sartain proceeded ahead of Kasmar's truck. Sartain passed over Interstate 80 and prepared to make a left turn onto Interstate 80 at the intersection just south of the collision intersection. While he was waiting at the red light to make his left turn, Kasmar's truck passed by at approximately 30 to 35 miles per hour. He testified that light at the collision intersection ahead of Kasmar's truck was solid green. Kasmar's truck was through the intersection where Sartain was stopped when Perez's car began making its left turn. Sartain heard the locking of Kasmar's brakes and saw smoke coming from the truck's back tires. Sartain estimates that Kasmar's truck was 20 feet from the collision intersection when he heard the brakes lock up. He had no estimate of the speed of the vehicles upon impact. He stated that Perez's car split in half, and the truck jackknifed. The entire incident took a couple of seconds.

George Brink was driving a truck in the vicinity of the accident. He testified that he had just exited Interstate 80 and was entering the lane used for merging traffic from Interstate 80 onto northbound U.S. 251 when he first saw Kasmar's truck in his rear view mirror. Brink estimates that Kasmar was 200 to 300 yards behind him. Brink was travelling in the merging lane at approximately 15 miles per hour. When Brink was halfway between the exit ramp and La Salle Road, he noticed that Kasmar was now approximately 100 yards behind ...


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