Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Dec. 4, 2013, 7:42am


The City of Belleville is denying liability in a man’s complaint over injuries he sustained after allegedly failing on a sidewalk.

In his July 19 complaint, Ace Fouts claims the sidewalk near the intersection of 501 South Second and Monroe streets in Belleville was “cracked and buckling,” which caused him to fall.

Fouts, according to the suit, contends that when he tried to step on the curb after exiting his vehicle, it allegedly collapsed, causing him severe injuries.

The City of Belleville answered the complaint on Oct. 8 denying the allegations.

Represented by Alan G. Pirtle of Becker, Paulson, Hoerner & Thompson in Belleville, the City filed six affirmative defenses claiming immunity from liability based on the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.

It also claims the condition of the sidewalk and curb was open and obvious, blaming Fouts for carelessness and negligence for failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to exercise reasonable care for his own safety.

The City claims protection under the Premises Liability Act, arguing that the defendant “does not owe a duty to take reasonable steps to protect entrants from conditions on the premises that are known, open and obvious.”

The defendant further argues that the condition of the sidewalk is the responsibility of the property owner, citing  ordinance 63.87, which states, “All sidewalks, steps, driveways, parking spaces and similar paved areas for public use shall be kept in a proper state of repair by the owner of the premises on which said public areas are located.”

Fouts, represented by Jarrod P. Beasley of The Kuehn Law Firm in Belleville, filed a motion for to leave to amend on Nov. 6 in order to add parties to his complaint, which was granted by Circuit Judge Robert LeChien on Nov. 13.

Defendants Gary and Alesia Klemme were added to the complaint.

Fouts blames the Klemmes of failing to provide a safe way to walk on its sidewalk, failing to warn of a hazardous condition of the sidewalk and failing to exercise reasonable care.  

Fouts seeks a judgment of more than $50,000 for each of the three counts in the complaint.

LeChien scheduled a status conference for Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-376

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