Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Dec. 6, 2013, 11:23am

Madison County mass Transit District (MCT) and Agency for Community Tranisit (ACT) in Edwardsville claimed immunity under the Tort Immunity Act in a Colorado woman’s lawsuit alleging her husband was struck by a car while riding his bike on the trails.

Plaintiff Mary Beltz claims she was riding bikes with her husband William Beltz on a Madison County trail known as the Schoolhouse Trail near Illinois Route 111 and Horseshoe Lake Road on May 12, 2012, when her husband was struck by Ghio Viviano, who was driving his vehicle on Route 111. William Beltz’s injuries ultimately caused his death.

Beltz claims bicyclists are required to navigate the intersection by means of crosswalk without the help of warning signs alerting to the hazards or nature of the intersection ahead. Thus, William Beltz allegedly “had no knowledge, notice or reason to know of the hazards that he would encounter at the upcoming intersection,” the amended complaint states.

She further alleges that the Schoolhouse Trail used to be 560 feet south of the intersection prior to its reconstruction.

MCT and ACT filed a motion to dismiss on Oct. 7 arguing that they are public entities and are immune under the Tort Immunity Act, citing six specific immunities the law provides.

The defendants, represented by Donald J. Ohl and Heather Mueller-Jones of Knapp, Ohl & Green in Edwardsville, also argue that they are immune for any failure to provide traffic warnings or signs on the trail pursuant to Illinois law.

“’Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable under this Act for an injury caused by the failure to initially provide regulatory traffic control devices,’” the motion states.

Illinois law also provides immunity for incidents occurring on riding trails as well as failure to enforce its safety rules and regulations.

“’Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a condition of … any hiking, riding, fishing or hunting trail,’” the motion states.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder took the defendants’ motion to dismiss under advisement and scheduled a case management conference for Dec. 18 at 9 a.m.

Oates Associates Inc. was also named a defendant for overseeing the reconstruction of the trial.

Beltz responded to Oates Associates’ affirmative defenses on Nov. 14 refuting its defenses.

Beltz seeks a judgment of more than $400,000.

Beltz is represented by Ted N. Gianaris and G. Michael Stewart of Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd in Alton.

Gary E. Snodgrass and William S. Thomas of St. Louis represent Oates Associates.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-692

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