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.

Mejia v. White GMC Trucks

December 31, 2002

CLAUDIA MEJIA, INDEPENDENT ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF LUIS G. MEJIA, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
WHITE GMC TRUCKS, INC., FORMERLY KNOWN AS WHITE TRUCKS OF CHICAGO, INC., DEFENDANT, (VOLVO GM HEAVY TRUCK CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.)



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 95 L 30 Honorable James M. Varga, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hall

As modified January 30, 2003.

CLAUDIA MEJIA, INDEPENDENT ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF LUIS G. MEJIA, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
WHITE GMC TRUCKS, INC., FORMERLY KNOWN AS WHITE TRUCKS OF CHICAGO, INC., DEFENDANT, (VOLVO GM HEAVY TRUCK CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.)

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 95 L 30 Honorable James M. Varga, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hall

The plaintiff, Claudia Mejia, independent administrator of the estate of Luis G. Mejia, deceased, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County granting partial summary judgment to defendant Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corporation on count I of the plaintiff's amended complaint.

On January 4, 1993, Luis G. Mejia was killed when the garbage truck he was operating struck a median, collided with a van, became airborne and landed on its passenger side. Mr. Mejia was found upside down on the passenger side with his head crushed.

The truck in this case was equipped with a passenger side door that folded back. It was designed for situations in which the person on the passenger-side was in and out of the truck every 100 or 200 feet. The truck in this case was designed so that it could be operated from either side of the truck. The passenger-drive side was primarily made for low speed operation, in this case for picking up waste.

On August 11, 1999, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint against the defendant. *fn1 Count I alleged that Mr. Mejia was killed when his seat belt released during the accident, causing him to be thrown to his right and partially ejected through the right side door of the truck cab. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant designed, manufactured, distributed and sold the truck that Mr. Mejia was operating at the time of his death. The plaintiff alleged that the truck was in an unreasonably dangerous condition, in part, because:

"d) The latch handle on the exterior of passenger side door of the cab was exposed and unguarded so that incidental contact with the handle would release the latch and open the door.

e) The latch on the interior of the passenger side door was exposed and unguarded so that incidental contact would release the door and cause it to open.

f) The passenger door was flimsy and subject to excessive deformation so that damage to the door would create an opening for partial ejection or would cause the latch to separate from the latch plate releasing the door and causing it to open." *fn2

Count II of the amended complaint alleged a survivor action.

On August 27, 1999, the defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment addressed to the plaintiff's allegations of negligence in connection with the door latches on the basis of federal preemption. On October 7, 1999, the circuit court entered partial summary judgment for the defendant on count I of the amended complaint. The circuit court also granted the defendant summary judgment as to count II of the amended complaint. On January 4, 2000, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (155 Ill. 2d R. 304(a)), the circuit court found that there was no just reason to delay enforcement or appeal of its October 7, 1999, order. The plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal.

The sole issue on appeal is whether federal law preempts the plaintiff's allegations of negligence with regard to the door and the latches on the truck.

Prior to turning to the merits of this appeal, we find it necessary to comment on the circuit court's statement in its order of January 4, 2000, to the effect that it was making its October 7, 1999, order a final one by making a finding pursuant to Rule 304(a). Such a statement shows a continuing misconception as to the nature of final orders for purposes of appeals pursuant to Rule 304(a).

A Rule 304(a) finding does not make a non-final order appealable; rather, a Rule 304(a) finding makes a final order appealable where there are multiple parties or claims in the same action. Blott v. Hanson, 283 Ill. App. 3d 656, 660, 670 N.E.2d 345, 348 (1996). Therefore, contrary to the language of the circuit court's January 4, 2000, order, it was the finality of the October 7, 1999, order that permitted it to be appealed pursuant to Rule 304(a). Our circuit courts 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.