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Leonardi v. Chicago Transit Authority

June 30, 2003

MARIA LEONARDI, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND CITY OF CHICAGO, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable municipal John G. Laurie, James P. McCarthy, Judges Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wolfson

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiff Maria Leonardi stepped into a large crack in the sidewalk at the Jefferson Park bus station and injured her right foot. Leonardi sued the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the City of Chicago (City), alleging defendants had negligently failed to maintain the sidewalks and curbs at the bus station. *fn1

The City filed a motion for summary judgment, contending it had no duty to Leonardi because it had no management authority or control over the sidewalks at the Jefferson Park bus station. The court granted the City's motion.

On appeal, the sole issue is whether the City had possession and/or control of the bus station's curbs and sidewalks. *fn2 If not, the City cannot be held liable for Leonardi's injuries. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Parties provided the trial court with evidence concerning the details of Leonardi's fall and injury and the degree of the City's control over the sidewalks and curbs at the Jefferson Park bus station. Only the evidence pertaining to the issue of the City's duty toward Leonardi is discussed here.

Operation and Maintenance Agreement

The City and the CTA entered into an "Agreement for the Operation and Maintenance of the Kennedy Rapid Transit Facility" (the Agreement). The parties do not dispute the Agreement applies to the Jefferson Park bus station.

According to the Agreement, the City passed an ordinance on April 23, 1945, granting the CTA "the exclusive right and authority to establish, construct, reconstruct, maintain and operate the transit system for the local transportation of passengers within the City." Under another ordinance, the City council authorized the extension of the then-existing transit system from the Logan Square Terminal to a proposed new terminal. Under the Agreement, the City undertook the construction of the extension and terminal. Upon completion of the extension, the City would "convey to [the CTA] for and in consideration of one dollar ($1.00) and other good and valuable consideration such rights as shall be necessary to allow [the CTA] to maintain and operate said rapid transit facility and appurtenances thereto." The only portion of the transit facility over which the City retained any maintenance responsibilities was the landscaping.

The CTA agreed to "operate and maintain [the facility] as an integral part of its total system" and "maintain the *** facility and any and all appurtenances thereto in accord with the highest engineering standards." If necessary, the CTA would replace the facility and appurtenances "in accordance with the terms and provisions of City of Chicago ordinance of April 23, 1945, granting [the CTA] the exclusive right of operation of facilities for local transportation within Chicago." (Emphasis added.) The CTA also agreed to hold the City harmless for claims arising out of the operation and maintenance of the facility and its appurtenances.

If the parties determined the facility was no longer needed to serve the public, the CTA could, with one year's written notice to the City, cease operations and remove the facility and appurtenances. At that time, all rights the CTA possessed in the property would be "reconveyed" to the City.

Thomas Ambry

Thomas Ambry, an assistant project director employed by the City of Chicago, testified he oversees capital improvements on transit facilities. He explained the City does not repair sidewalks that have fallen into disrepair at those facilities:

"Q. If a sidewalk or a curb needed to be repaired at the Jefferson Park bus terminal within that area, do you know who would make those repairs?

***

A. Physically or -- ...


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