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.

05/18/95 MELBA VAUGHN v. CITY WEST FRANKFORT

May 18, 1995

MELBA VAUGHN, APPELLEE,
v.
THE CITY OF WEST FRANKFORT, APPELLANT.



The Honorable Justice McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcmorrow

JUSTICE McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Melba Vaughn, filed a personal injury action in the circuit court of Franklin County alleging negligence against defendant, the City of West Frankfort. Plaintiff sought recovery for injuries caused as a result of stepping into a hole while crossing Jefferson Street in West Frankfort. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1992)). The trial court found that defendant owed no duty to plaintiff and granted defendant's motion. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court, holding that municipalities owe pedestrians a duty of reasonable care to keep city streets free from defects. (258 Ill. App. 3d 424.) In this appeal, in order to determine whether the trial court properly granted defendant's motion to dismiss, we must decide whether to impose upon municipalities a duty of reasonable care to keep city streets free from defects that may cause injuries to pedestrians crossing streets mid-block, outside of the crosswalks. We decline to do so.

Plaintiff's complaint alleges that at approximately 10:30 p.m. on June 2, 1991, she was walking on the east side of Jefferson Street in West Frankfort. The sidewalk on the east side of Jefferson ended mid-block. The plaintiff stepped into Jefferson Street and began to cross the street to reach the sidewalk on the west side of Jefferson Street. While crossing the street, plaintiff stepped into a hole, fell, and sustained injuries.

As we review the sufficiency of plaintiff's complaint, we accept all well-pleaded facts as true. ( Scott & Fetzer Co. v. Montgomery Ward & Co. (1986), 112 Ill. 2d 378, 98 Ill. Dec. 1, 493 N.E.2d 1022.) In order to state a cause of action in negligence, plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to establish that defendant owed plaintiff a duty of care, a breach of that duty, and an injury proximately caused by that breach. ( Curtis v. County of Cook (1983), 98 Ill. 2d 158, 162, 74 Ill. Dec. 614, 456 N.E.2d 116.) Whether defendant owed plaintiff a duty of care is a question of law for the court. Marshall v. City of Centralia (1991), 143 Ill. 2d 1, 6, 155 Ill. Dec. 802, 570 N.E.2d 315; Deibert v. Bauer Brothers Construction Co. (1990), 141 Ill. 2d 430, 437-38, 152 Ill. Dec. 552, 566 N.E.2d 239.

The duty of a local government entity to maintain its property is limited by section 3-102 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (the Act) (745 ILCS 10/3-102 (West 1992)). Section 3-102(a) states in pertinent part:

"(a) 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 ***." (745 ILCS 10/3-102(a) (West 1992).)

We must determine whether plaintiff in the case at bar is an "intended and permitted" user of the street under section 3-102(a) of the Act, keeping in mind that the Act "is in derogation of the common law" and must be strictly construed against the local government entity. ( Curatola v. Village of Niles (1993), 154 Ill. 2d 201, 208, 181 Ill. Dec. 631, 608 N.E.2d 882.) The general rule that has evolved in Illinois with regard to the duty of a municipality to maintain its streets in a reasonably safe condition is that, since pedestrians are not intended users of streets, a municipality does not owe a duty of reasonable care to pedestrians who attempt to cross a street outside the crosswalks. Curatola, 154 Ill. 2d at 208; see Wojdyla v. City of Park Ridge (1992), 148 Ill. 2d 417, 170 Ill. Dec. 418, 592 N.E.2d 1098; Mason v.. City of Chicago (1988), 173 Ill. App. 3d 330, 123 Ill. Dec. 109, 527 N.E.2d 572; Risner v. City of Chicago (1986), 150 Ill. App. 3d 827, 104 Ill. Dec. 94, 502 N.E.2d 357; Deren v. City of Carbondale (1973), 13 Ill. App. 3d 473, 300 N.E.2d 590.

In Curatola v. Village of Niles, this court recognized a narrow exception to the general rule adhered to by Illinois courts and held that a pedestrian entering or exiting a legally parked vehicle was an intended and permitted user of the street around the vehicle. ( Curatola, 154 Ill. 2d 201, 181 Ill. Dec. 631, 608 N.E.2d 882.) Thus, a duty was imposed on a municipality to maintain the street immediately around legally parked vehicles in a reasonably safe condition for pedestrians. ( Curatola, 154 Ill. 2d 201, 181 Ill. Dec. 631, 608 N.E.2d 882; see also Jorgensen v. Whiteside (1992), 233 Ill. App. 3d 783, 174 Ill. Dec. 925, 599 N.E.2d 1009; Torres v. City of Chicago (1991), 218 Ill. App. 3d 89, 161 Ill. Dec. 31, 578 N.E.2d 158; Di Domenico v. Village of Romeoville (1988), 171 Ill. App. 3d 293, 121 Ill. Dec. 436, 525 N.E.2d 242.) However, the holding in Curatola was expressly limited. The court there stated that "the narrow exception we recognize here concerns only the permitted and intended use of the street immediately around a legally parked vehicle by its exiting and entering operators and occupants." Curatola, 154 Ill. 2d at 213.

Plaintiff in the case at bar contends that we should recognize an additional exception to the general rule and find that she was an intended and permitted user of Jefferson Street. Plaintiff cites, and the appellate court relied upon, the Illinois Vehicle Code to support her assertion that she was a permitted and intended user of the street. Section 11-1003 of the Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-1003 (West 1992)) states:

"(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

***

(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk." ...


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.