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11/20/89 Penny L. Smith, v. the County of White

November 20, 1989

PENNY L. SMITH, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

THE COUNTY OF WHITE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

548 N.E.2d 19, 191 Ill. App. 3d 569, 138 Ill. Dec. 789 1989.IL.1803

Appeal from the Circuit Court of White County; the Hon. Leo J. Desmond, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the opinion of the court. GOLDENHERSH and RARICK, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CHAPMAN

This negligence action arose out of an automobile accident which occurred on November 24, 1984, in White County, Illinois. The plaintiff, Penny L. Smith, filed a four-count complaint against defendants Roberta L. Goddard, Brenda K. Fisher, and White County. After dismissing the initial complaint and granting the plaintiff leave to amend, the trial court granted defendant White County's motion to dismiss the amended complaint with prejudice. The other two defendants are not involved in this appeal.

The facts, as alleged in the plaintiff's amended complaint, are that the plaintiff was a passenger in a car driven by Fisher which collided with a car driven by Goddard. Fisher was driving south on County Highway 7, and Goddard was proceeding west on County Highway 2. The intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 7 is a sharp curve which connects the two roads. Stop signs were in place to control traffic approaching Highway 2 from the west and Highway 7 from the south. On Highway 7 approximately 500 feet north of the intersection of Highways 2 and 7 was a traffic control sign warning of the curve ahead and posting a reduced speed limit of 10 miles per hour. No signs were placed along Highway 2 warning of the curve. (The following rough diagram was furnished during oral argument.)

As the Goddard vehicle approached the intersection, it failed to negotiate the curve and struck the Fisher vehicle, injuring the plaintiff. Count III of plaintiff's amended complaint, directed against White County, alleged:

"10. That at the aforesaid time, the defendant, by virtue of Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 121, section 5-101.10, and ch. 85, section 3-102 and section 3-104(b), was under a duty to exercise ordinary care in regard to posting and maintaining traffic warning signs in the vicinity of said curve and in that regard the defendant, pursuant to Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 121, section 5-205.2, through the county superintendent of highways, should have undertaken the following acts or knew of the following things or a combination thereof:

A. Traffic warning signs were necessary to warn of the sharp condition of said curve which endangered the safe movement of traffic, and said condition was not otherwise reasonably apparent to or anticipated by a person in the exercise of due care.

B. Post certain warning signs regarding the curve and thereby assumed the duty to exercise reasonable care to place and maintain proper signs regarding the curve.

11. That the aforesaid occurrence was a direct and proximate result of one or more of the following negligent acts or omissions on the part of the defendant or a combination thereof after the defendant for a substantial period of time had actual knowledge of the sharpness of the curve and no signage at the curve on Highway Number 2:

A. Posted a sign showing the direction of the curve and to post speed plates or other signs advising motorists to reduce speed thus leading motorists to believe the curve could be negotiated at the road speed limit of 10 miles per hour notwithstanding the fact that the defendant knew or should have known that the curve was so sharp that a motorist could not ...


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