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Mull v. Kane County Forest Preserve District

March 10, 2003

JANET MULL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
THE KANE COUNTY FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 00--L--201 Honorable Pamela K. Jensen, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McLAREN

Released for publication March 13, 2003.

JANET MULL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
THE KANE COUNTY FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 00--L--201 Honorable Pamela K. Jensen, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McLAREN

Publish

Defendant, the Kane County Forest Preserve District (forest preserve), appeals the jury verdict finding the forest preserve liable for personal injuries suffered by plaintiff, Janet Mull, when she fell while riding on the forest preserve's bike trail. We reverse.

The following facts are taken from the record. During the afternoon of September 6, 1999, plaintiff fell from her bicycle after encountering a rut in the Great Western Trail, a path that traverses 17 miles of the forest preserve. The rut was located about 50 yards west of the Hidden Oaks Bridge. Plaintiff sustained injuries due to the fall.

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that defendant wantonly and wilfully breached its duty by, inter alia, failing to remedy the dangerous condition on the Great Western Trail. Defendant filed an affirmative defense and motion for summary judgment claiming absolute immunity under section 3--107 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (the Act) (745 ILCS 10/3--107(a),(b) (West 1998)). The trial court granted plaintiff's motion to strike and dismiss defendant's affirmative defense and denied defendant's motion for summary judgment.

The trial court granted defendant's motion for a finding pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308, permitting an interlocutory appeal. 155 Ill. 2d R. 308. However, this court denied defendant's permissive interlocutory appeal. The matter then proceeded to trial.

At trial, plaintiff testified that she was a regular rider on the path, riding once or twice a week, and that she was aware of the ruts in the path. At the time of her fall, she was not distracted and was looking straight ahead, but she forgot that the ruts were present.

Plaintiff and her husband testified as to the nature and extent of plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff suffered injuries to her shoulder, collar bone, arm, elbow, and knee. Dr. Jeffrey Grosskopf, plaintiff's physician, testified by deposition that plaintiff was beginning to heal after about six weeks but may continue to experience pain while performing certain activities. Dr. Charles Carroll, an orthopaedic surgeon, testified by deposition that, during plaintiff's last visit, she felt some pain and suffered from delayed healing.

Dr. Richard Olsen, a regular rider on the bike path, testified that three weeks before plaintiff's fall, his wife fell while riding on the path and Olsen called defendant and reported the incident and the condition of the path.

John Duerr, defendant's director of resources, testified that, before plaintiff's fall, a friend had told ...


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