Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County. No. 93L509. Honorable John G. Townsend, Judge Presiding.
As Corrected August 29, 1996.
Honorable Robert J. Steigmann, J., Honorable John T. McCULLOUGH, J., Honorable Rita B. Garman, J., Concurring. Justice Steigmann delivered the opinion of the court:
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Steigmann
The Honorable Justice STEIGMANN delivered the opinion of the court:
In April 1993, plaintiff, Margie Yager, filed a complaint against defendant, Illinois Bell Telephone Company, alleging negligence and seeking damages resulting from injuries plaintiff suffered in a fall. In June 1993, plaintiff amended her complaint, adding a negligence count against defendant, Champaign Telephone Company (CTC). In May 1995, a jury returned a verdict for plaintiff and against CTC in the sum of $303,355.99 and entered judgment on the verdict following post-trial motions.
CTC appeals, arguing that (1) it had no duty to plaintiff; (2) assuming a duty existed, it did not breach a duty to plaintiff; and (3) any alleged violation of a duty by CTC did not proximately cause plaintiff's injury.
Because we agree with the first and third of CTC's arguments, we reverse.
On February 8, 1993, Marion Clark and Lee Moore, employees of CTC, worked on some telephone equipment at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD). The equipment was housed in a telephone equipment box (hereafter the box) located along a sidewalk in a poorly lit area inside the MTD garage. The box also contained a public address (PA) system and associated wires. Clark and Moore opened the single front door of the box, swinging it out past the edge of the sidewalk, into the bus parking area, and back against the wall, where they propped it open with orange safety cones. At this time, no buses were parked in the area next to the sidewalk.
Clark and Moore worked on the telephone system but did not work on or disturb the PA system. After completing their work, they were unable to shut the box's door because a bus had parked next to the sidewalk. Moore testified that, before leaving the premises at about 10 a.m., he informed Colleen Hart, assistant to the MTD director of administration, that they had finished and had left the door open because of the parked bus. Hart did not recall whether Moore had told her the door was left open that day, but she testified that it was not unusual for CTC to request that she close the door when a bus was in the way.
On February 9, 1993, at about 6 a.m., as plaintiff was walking along the sidewalk inside the MTD garage, she tripped over a ball of wire and fell, breaking her arm and injuring her hip. At the time plaintiff fell, the box's door was closed. No one recalled seeing the wire between the time that Moore and Clark left on February 8, 1993, and the time plaintiff fell on February 9, 1993.
In June 1993, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that CTC was negligent in performing its work. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that CTC negligently:
"A. Drooped wires across a designated walkway.
B. Failed to barricade off wires that were drooped across a ...