Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable John J. Crown, Judge Presiding.
Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied October 6, 1994.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Theis
JUSTICE THEIS delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff Jorgelina Segarra brought a negligence action against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and an unidentified CTA bus driver to recover damages for injuries she allegedly sustained when she stepped off a moving CTA bus. The trial court granted the CTA's motion to dismiss (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-619) because plaintiff failed to comply with the notice requirements set forth in section 41 of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act (the Transit Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 2/3, par. 341) for civil actions against the CTA. After plaintiff amended her complaint to name as a defendant Nelson Machado, who was allegedly driving the CTA bus at the time of the accident, the trial court granted Machado's motion to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. On appeal, plaintiff argues (1) that the trial court improperly dismissed her complaint pursuant to section 41 of the Transit Act and (2) that the six-month notice requirement under section 41 is unconstitutional because it denies her equal protection of the law. For the reasons presented below, we affirm.
On December 19, 1986, plaintiff filed a complaint against the CTA and John Doe, the unidentified driver of the CTA bus on which plaintiff suffered her injuries. Plaintiff's complaint alleged that on December 19, 1985, defendants carelessly and negligently allowed the bus to move while she was stepping off the bus, and as a direct and proximate result, plaintiff sustained "severe and permanent injuries." The complaint further alleged that on November 20, 1986, plaintiff served written notice of her claim for personal injuries upon the CTA's "Secretary" and "General Attorney."
On April 1, 1987, defendant CTA moved to dismiss this action on the basis that plaintiff had not complied with the notice requirements of section 41. Under section 41, a claimant who brings a civil action against the CTA must provide proper notice to the office of the secretary of the Transit Board and the office of the CTA's General Attorney within six months of the accident. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 2/3, par. 341.) The CTA argued that plaintiff had not, at any time, filed a proper notice statement either in the office of the secretary of the Board or in the office of the General Attorney for the CTA.
Three weeks later, plaintiff responded that in March 1986 she had sent a letter to the office of the General Attorney for the CTA stating the date and time of the accident. On July 14, 1987, she filed an affidavit, asserting that "in the first part of March, 1986, a letter was written for me, which I signed, which letter stated the time, date of the occurrence of the accident, and which letter was addressed to the lawyers of the Chicago Transit Authority" at the Merchandise Mart Plaza.
The trial court subsequently dismissed the CTA as a defendant pursuant to section 41 of the Transit Act. The trial court's order did not specify how plaintiff failed to comply with the requirements of section 41. In addition to dismissing the CTA as a defendant, the trial court ordered that the case "shall continue as to Nelson Machado" and granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint.
On October 1, 1987, plaintiff filed her amended complaint, naming both the CTA and Machado as defendants. After the case was sent to mandatory arbitration, in September 1991 the arbitrators awarded plaintiff the maximum amount of $15,000. The CTA rejected the award and requested a trial.
On September 23, 1992, the trial court granted Machado's motion to dismiss on the basis that plaintiff had not complied with the six-month notice provision of section 41, and dismissed the case with prejudice. Plaintiff appeals from this dismissal order.
Section 41 of the Transit Act requires that actions against the CTA be commenced within one year from the date of injury. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 2/3, par. 341.) Persons seeking to commence such actions must, within six months from the date of injury "file in the office of the secretary of the [Chicago Transit] Board and also in the office of the General Attorney for the either by himself, his agent, or attorney," giving the names and addresses of relevant parties, including attending physicians, and the time and place of the accident. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 2/3, par. 341.) Failure to comply with the above provisions will result in dismissal of the action against the CTA. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 2/3, par. 341.) Section 41 is a mandatory statute, requiring that a claimant strictly comply with each of its elements. Niziolek v. Chicago Transit Authority (1993), 251 Ill. App. 3d 537, 542, 620 N.E.2d 1097, 1100, 189 Ill. Dec. 780; Bonner v. Chicago Transit Authority (1993), 249 Ill. App. 3d 210, 212, 618 N.E.2d 871, 872, 188 Ill. Dec. 301.
Plaintiff argues that she complied with the requirements of section 41 by filing her complaint against the bus driver within one year of the date of the accident. She maintains that the six-month limitation provision in section 41 applies only to the CTA and not to the CTA's ...