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Crosson v. Ruzich

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

July 31, 2018

PAULETTE CROSSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BOB RUZICH and PAM RUZICH, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Johnson County. No. 15-L-3 Honorable Joseph Jackson, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellant Tyler N. Dihle, Prince Law Firm, 404 North Monroe, P.O. Box 1050, Marion, IL 62959

          Attorneys for Appellees Charles E. Schmidt, Phillip G. Palmer Jr., Brandon & Schmidt, 916 West Main Street, P.O. Box 3898, Carbondale, IL 62902

          JUSTICE CATES delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Barberis and Justice Moore concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HONORABLE JUDY L. CATES, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Plaintiff, Paulette Crosson, sought damages from defendants, Bob Ruzich and Pam Ruzich, for personal injuries sustained after she fell while on defendants' property. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of defendants on plaintiff's negligence claim and dismissed plaintiff's claim alleging defendants violated the Animal Control Act (Act) (510 ILCS 5/16 (West 2012)). Plaintiff appeals from the circuit court's orders. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 In 2012, plaintiff was a certified nursing assistant, providing home health care services. In August and September 2012, plaintiff provided home health care to Pam Ruzich's grandmother, who resided at defendants' home. Plaintiff visited defendants' home to provide health care services on eight occasions, each time entering and exiting the home through the front entrance. Plaintiff accessed the front door by walking up several stairs leading to a front porch. The top stair was level with the porch floor.

         ¶ 3 While plaintiff was caring for Pam's grandmother, plaintiff and Pam became friends. During the fall of 2012, plaintiff made two social visits to defendants' home, each time accessing the home by walking up the front stairs, onto the porch, and into defendants' home.

         ¶ 4 On March 19, 2013, plaintiff was a guest at defendants' home. As she had done on prior occasions, plaintiff walked up the stairs leading to the porch and entered defendants' home. Plaintiff stayed for a short while and then exited the house. When plaintiff exited the home, while standing on the top step of the porch stairs, defendants' dog, Moxie, approached plaintiff and stood to plaintiffs left. Plaintiff then began petting Moxie. In her deposition, plaintiff described what happened next as follows:

"Q. Moxie didn't push you off the porch, did she?
A. She did not push me. No.
Q. So while you were petting Moxie, looking away from the house, what happened?
A. Well, I just moved my foot over. I mean I don't know. I was on the edge just to get my balance a little more and it started to go off the edge.
Q. Okay. Your foot went off the edge?
A. A little bit. Yes.
Q. Okay. I see. So you took a little bit of a step to keep your balance and in the course of doing that your foot went off the edge?
A. Yes.
Q. Nothing about the condition of the porch caused you to lose your ...

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