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02/14/94 CAGNEY HELMS AND LISA HELMS v. CHICAGO

February 14, 1994

CAGNEY HELMS AND LISA HELMS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE JOSEPH N. CASCIATO, JUDGE PRESIDING.

Released for Publication April 19, 1994.2

Campbell, Buckley, O'connor, Jr.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Campbell

PRESIDING JUSTICE CAMPBELL delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiffs Cagney and Lisa Helms appeal an order of the circuit court of Cook County granting summary judgment to defendant Chicago Park District ("Park District") in a personal injury action. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The record on appeal indicates the following facts. During the day of November 6, 1984, Cagney used Ring Station Number Eight ("Ring Station"), part of an eighteen station exercise course known as the Perrier-Parcourse Fitness Circuit in Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois ("Fitness Circuit"). On that day, defendant was in possession and control of the park and equipment. The Ring Station consists of three wooden columns that support three horizontal steel bars set at different elevations. A pair of non-circular steel rings hang from chains attached to each steel bar; each pair of rings hang at a different elevation. Cagney Helms, while using the Ring Station, lost his grip on a pair of rings and fell to the asphalt surface underneath the Ring Station. Following this fall, Cagney was rendered quadriplegic.

Cagney Helms and his wife Lisa filed suit against the Park District and other defendants. The record indicates that plaintiffs have reached settlements with the other defendants named in the initial complaint. Cagney charged the Park District with ordinary negligence and willful and wanton misconduct. Lisa did the same in bringing her claim for loss of consortium. On December 29, 1987, the Park District moved for summary judgment.

The parties took a number of depositions in connection with the motion for summary judgment. In his deposition, Cagney Helms indicated he was a 27 years old at the time of his injury. Cagney stated that he had an associate degree in Physical Education. According to Cagney, his training was such that it qualified him to be an assistant to a park district physical fitness instructor.

Cagney stated that he had used all of the stations of the FitnessCircuit prior to November 6, 1984. Cagney indicated that he had used the Ring Station approximately ten times in 1984 prior to November 6th of that year. Cagney stated that he had read the sign at the Ring Station before the accident and saw a picture that showed a person grabbing the rings and rotating his hips. Cagney stated that he understood this sign to demonstrate an exercise for the use of the rings. Cagney identified a photograph of the sign that was marked as an exhibit and included in the record. This exhibit does show a sign depicting a man grabbing a set of rings over his head and rotating. Below the picture, the sign states as follows:

"Grip rings of easy reach; keep feet together on ground beneath rings. Relax and hang from rings.

Move body in clockwise circle to your par. Recover. Repeat in counter-clockwise circle to your par."

Below these instructions, the sign shows a chart indicating a number of rotations for different fitness levels or "pars."

Cagney indicated that prior to November 6, 1984, he would use the rings to turn upside-down by pulling himself up and bringing his legs backward over his head and toward the ground behind him. Cagney stated that he learned to do this on his own. Cagney indicated that he intended to exercise his triceps in this manner. Cagney stated that this was different from the demonstration on the sign.

Cagney indicated that on November 6, 1984, he had packed a lunch to eat in the park before exercising. Cagney also indicated that he drank three or four cans of beer at the park approximately one and one-half hours prior to the accident. Cagney further indicated that he had ...


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