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Kristine Warning, As Independent Executor of the Estate of Joanne M. Warning, Circuit, Deceased v. the City of Joliet

August 22, 2012


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Will County, Illinois, Circuit No. 06-L-650 Honorable Barbara Petrungaro, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Schmidt and Justice Carter concurred with the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 Plaintiff, Kristine Warning, as independent executor of the estate of Joanne M.

Warning, filed an action against defendant, City of Joliet (City), to recover damages for personal injuries her mother sustained when she was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street inside a crosswalk. Following plaintiff's case-in-chief, the trial court entered a directed finding in favor of the City. On appeal, plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in finding

(1) that the City did not owe a duty of reasonable care relating to street lighting and crosswalks on Madison Street, (2) that no evidence was presented as to actual or constructive notice that certain streetlights were inoperable, and (3) that no evidence was presented that the City failed to make a reasonable inspection of the crosswalk or failed to erect additional signage around the crosswalk. We affirm.

¶ 2 Plaintiff filed a complaint against the City alleging that it was liable for injuries

Joanne, age 79, suffered when she was struck by a vehicle driven by Amanda Ibarra on Madison Street outside Provena Hospital on September 5, 2005. Joanne died from the injuries a few weeks later. Plaintiff alleged that her mother's death was the result of the City's negligence. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the City failed to (1) maintain the streetlamps on Madison Street, (2) warn of the inoperative streetlamps near the crosswalk,

(3) make a reasonable inspection of the crosswalk, and (4) have or follow procedures for the inspection of streetlamps at crosswalks.

¶ 3 At the bench trial, Jesse Harper testified that he was employed by Provena as a full-time security officer from May of 2005 through September or October of 2007. His job was to ensure the safety of the employees and visitors of the hospital. He observed the roadways and lighting around Provena. From June or July 2005 through September 2005, he noticed several inoperable streetlights on Madison Street. Typically, during that time, he noted about one per week. When he found a streetlight that was out, he would mark the inoperable light with yellow caution tape. He testified that the light at the parking lot on the east side of Madison Street was out the night of the accident and prior to the accident, but he did not know for how long.

¶ 4 Harper testified that it was not his responsibility to tell the City that the lights were out. He simply reported them to his supervisor. He was not aware of any reports made to the City about streetlights at the parking lot on Madison.

¶ 5 On September 5, 2005, he remembered a woman being struck in the crosswalk. He did not see the accident but he heard the screeching brakes. Harper went to the crosswalk and saw Joanne on the ground in front of a vehicle. He testified that it was dark outside at the time of the accident and that he did not look specifically at the streetlights.

¶ 6 Amanda Ibarra testified that she works as a nurse at Provena. On September 5, 2005, she worked until 2:30 p.m. and then stayed beyond her shift. She worked more than 14 hours that day. She left the employee parking lot on the Madison Street side that evening. The road was dry, and it was dark out. The lights on her car automatically turned on. She was able to see the roadway when she pulled out. Before entering the crosswalk on Madison, she slowed down, but she hit a pedestrian. Although she applied her brakes as soon as she saw the woman, it was too late. The woman was walking in her lane of traffic and was wearing dark clothing. Ibarra testified that she believed the lighting affected her ability to see the woman.

¶ 7 Prior to September 5, 2005, she had no knowledge of any streetlights out on Madison

Street. The crosswalk was illuminated that evening, but she did not know if the light was on the crosswalk or how the crosswalk was lit.

ΒΆ 8 Officer Shana Murnane testified that there are no policies at the City police department as to reporting streetlight outages. Officers could report streetlight outages if ...

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