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Wiggins v. Bonsack

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

August 26, 2014

TABITHA WIGGINS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SHEILA BONSACK, Defendant-Appellee

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County. No. 10-L-58. Honorable Robert W. Lewis, Judge, presiding.

SYLLABUS

In an action arising from a vehicular collision at an intersection where defendant was attempting to exit a gas station and cross two lanes of southbound traffic to turn left and head north and defendant was struck by plaintiff's southbound car when she pulled out of the gas station after a truck stopped for a traffic light in the southbound traffic and created a gap and waved defendant to proceed, the general verdict for defendant was reversed and the cause was remanded with directions to enter a judgment for plaintiff and to hold a new trial on damages only, since defendant was clearly negligent in proceeding to make the left turn on the basis of the truck driver's wave without being able to see plaintiff's vehicle, and in the absence of any medical evidence from defendant rebutting the testimony of plaintiff's chiropractor, it would be difficult to draw the inference that plaintiff suffered no injury.

For Appellant: Matthew H. Caraway, Sam C. Mitchell & Associates, West Frankfort, IL.

For Appellee: Leslie B. Shinners, Mark R. Kurz, Boyle Brasher LLC, Belleville, IL.

JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Chapman and Cates concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 394

GOLDENHERSH, J.

[¶1] Plaintiff, Tabitha Wiggins, appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of Franklin County in favor of defendant, Sheila A. Bonsack, entered after a jury returned a general verdict in favor of defendant in an automobile accident case. The issues on appeal are: (1) whether plaintiff was entitled to a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (judgment n.o.v.), (2) whether the verdict in favor of defendant was against the manifest weight of the evidence, and (3) whether defense counsel's comments during his opening statement denied plaintiff a fair trial. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand for entry of judgment in favor of plaintiff on the issue of liability and a new trial on the issue of damages only.

[¶2] FACTS

[¶3] Plaintiff and defendant were involved in a two-car traffic accident near the intersection of Logan Street and Route 149 in West Frankfort. The intersection is a four-way intersection with traffic control devices in each direction. Logan Street runs north-south and intersects with Route 149, which runs east-west. At the place where the accident occurred, Logan Street has five lanes of traffic, two southbound lanes, two northbound lanes, and a turn lane for traffic to turn east onto Route 149.

[¶4] Defendant stopped to get gas after work and was attempting to exit Podge's Service Station located near the intersection by turning left out of Podge's parking lot to travel north on Logan Street. In

Page 395

order to turn left onto northbound Logan, it was necessary for defendant to cross two lanes of southbound traffic. Due to heavy traffic at the time, defendant sat for two to three minutes waiting for a break in traffic in order to exit. According to defendant, an unidentified man in a red truck came to a stop in the southbound lane closest to Podge's and left a gap between his truck and the two cars in front of him that were stopped at the red light at the intersection. The driver of the ...


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