Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

04/13/94 GREGORY L. SISK v. WILLIAMSON COUNTY

April 13, 1994

GREGORY L. SISK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 90-L-151. Honorable William Wilson, Presiding Judge.

Petition for Leave to Appeal Aloowed October 6, 1994.

Maag, Chapman, Lewis

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maag

JUSTICE MAAG delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Gregory L. Sisk, brought this action against defendant, Williamson County, to recover for injuries suffered when he fell from a concrete bridge to a creek bed spanned by the bridge. Sisk alleged in his fourth amended complaint that on September 30, 1989, he was driving his automobile on the Williamson County/Franklin County line road. As he crossed a bridge on the roadway, he collided with the bridge for reasons not disclosed in the record. After the collision, he exited his vehicle to inspect the damage. Sisk claims that during the inspection, his view of the bridge, right of way, and roadway was obscured by weeds which had grown in and around the bridge. This condition allegedly prevented him from observing the edge of the bridge and caused him to fall. Williamson County, in its brief, characterized the location of the accident as a "rural country road." (Emphasis added.)

In response to these allegations, Williamson County filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-615 of the Civil Practice Law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 110, par. 2-615 (now 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1992)). The county claimed that the complaint failed to allege sufficient facts to give rise to a duty of care owed to Sisk. According to the county, the facts as pleaded fail to demonstrate that Sisk was an intended and permitted user of the bridge, roadway, and right of way at the time of the fall. Stated simply, the county claimed that it had no duty to make the road, bridge, and right of way safe for foot travel.

The circuit court, after considering the complaint, motion, and authorities cited, granted the motion to dismiss, and this appeal ensued.

A motion to dismiss under section 2-615 admits all well-pleaded facts in the complaint for purposes of the motion. ( Barber-Colman Co. v. A & K Midwest Insulation Co. (1992), 236 Ill. App. 3d 1065, 603 N.E.2d 1215, 177 Ill. Dec. 841.) "No pleading is bad in substance which contains such information as reasonably informs the opposite party of the nature of the claim or defense which he or she is called upon to meet." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 110, par. 2-612(b) (now 735 ILCS 5/2-612 (West 1992)).

We do not believe that there is any question regarding the natureof the claim that Sisk was attempting to plead. The sole issue before us is as follows: Accepting as true, for purposes of the motion to dismiss, all of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint, does the complaint allege facts which give rise to a duty owed by the county to Sisk? We answer the question in the affirmative.

The parties have briefed extensively the issue of whether a duty of care was owed by Williamson County to maintain the road, bridge, and right of way in a condition suitable for pedestrian use. Sisk claims such a duty exists, and the county denies that claim. At the heart of this dispute is section 3-102(a) of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 85, par. 3-102(a) (now 745 ILCS 10/3-102(a) et seq. (West 1992))). It provides:

"Except as otherwise provided in this Article, a local public entity has the duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition for the use in the exercise of ordinary care of people whom the entity intended and permitted to use the property in a manner in which and at such times as it was reasonably foreseeable that it would be used, and shall not be liable for injury unless it is proven that it has actual or constructive notice of the existence of such a condition that is not reasonably safe in reasonably adequate time prior to an injury to have taken measures to remedy or protect against such condition." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 85, par. 3-102(a) (now 745 ILCS 10/3-102(a) (West 1992)).

This statute has been the subject of numerous appellate and supreme court decisions, particularly in relation to streets and roads. The majority of these decisions focus on who is an "intended and permitted" user of a given street or road. Intended and permitted status is crucial since unless such status exists no duty of care arises. Rather than lengthen this decision with yet another Discussion of these cases, we simply refer the parties to two recent opinions of our supreme court which extensively explain the principles at issue. See Curatola v. Village of Niles (1993), 154 Ill. 2d 201, 608 N.E.2d 882, 181 Ill. Dec. 631; Wojdyla v. City of Park Ridge (1992), 148 Ill. 2d 417, 592 N.E.2d 1098, 170 Ill. Dec. 418.

Despite the guidance provided by Curatola and Wojdyla, other matters not discussed by those cases must also be considered. Section 11-1007 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1007 (now 625 ILCS 5/11-1007 (West 1992))) provides:

(b) Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.

(c) Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near aspracticable to an outside edge of a roadway, and, if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1007(b),(c) (now 625 ILCS 5/11-1007(b),(c) (West 1992)).

Clearly, the legislature was aware that pedestrians make use of the highways of this State. This is manifest due to the mere existence of the statute.

While bridges are not specifically mentioned, a "highway" is defined by the Illinois Highway Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 121, par. 1-101 et seq. (now 605 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (West 1992))) as:

"any public way for vehicular travel which has been laid out in pursuance of any law of this State, or of the Territory of Illinois, or which has been established by dedication, or used by the public as a highway for 15 years, or which has been or may be laid out and connect a subdivision or platted land with a public highway and which has been dedicated for the use of the owners of the land included in the subdivision or platted land where there has been an acceptance and use under such dedication by such owners, and which has not been vacated in pursuance of law. The term "highway" includes rights of way, bridges, drainage structures, signs, guard rails, protective structures and all other structures and appurtenances necessary or convenient for vehicular traffic. A highway in a rural area may be called a "road", while a highway in a municipal area may be called a "street"." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 121, par. 2-202 (now 605 ILCS 5/2-202 (West 1992)).

Reading together section 11-1007 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and section 2-202 of the Illinois Highway Code, there is no doubt that the legislature at least foresaw that pedestrians would use roads, bridges, and shoulders for travel. But foreseeability alone does not equal duty. Other factors must also be considered. The factors to consider when determining whether a duty of care is owed are: "(1) foreseeability that the defendant's conduct will result in injury to another; (2) likelihood of injury; (3) the magnitude of guarding against it; and (4) the consequences of placing that burden upon the defendant." Curatola, 154 Ill. 2d at 214, 608 N.E.2d at 888.

Pedestrians have been found to be intended and permitted users of a street or road under some circumstances: while in a designated bus loading zone ( Jorgensen v. Whiteside (1992), 233 Ill. App. 3d 783, 599 N.E.2d 1009, 174 Ill. Dec. 925), while using the street to load, unload, enter, or exit a legally parked vehicle ( Di Domenico v. Village of Romeoville (1988), 171 Ill. App. 3d 293, 525 N.E.2d 242, 121 Ill. Dec. 436), while using a crosswalk ( Mason v. City of Chicago (1988), 173 Ill. App. 3d 330, 527 N.E.2d 572, 123 Ill. Dec. 109), or while unloading a legally parked truck ( Curatola v. Village of Niles (1993), 154 Ill. 2d 201, 608 N.E.2d 882, 181 Ill. Dec. 631). Glaring by its absence from the briefs of the parties and the authorities cited in Wojdyla and Curatola is any case fitting the facts of this case. We are not concerned with a city street, an urban setting, or a controlled-access superhighway. We are dealing with what the defendant characterizes as a "rural country road".

It is common knowledge that country roads have no crosswalks, no parking lanes, and no designated pedestrian walkways or sidewalks. We are not discussing Michigan Avenue in Chicago. We are ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.