Madison County Mass Transit District (MCT) and Agency for Community Transit (ACT) answered an amended complaint in a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming immunity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.

The agencies are defendants in a suit brought last year by a Colorado woman whose husband was struck by a car while riding his bike on the Schoolhouse Trail near Illinois Route 111 and Horseshoe Lake Road on May 12, 2012.

Plaintiff Mary Beltz claims William Beltz was struck by Ghio Viviano, who was driving his vehicle on Route 111. William Beltz’s injuries ultimately caused his death.

The suit says that bicyclists are required to navigate the intersection by means of a 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.

In their affirmative defenses filed Feb. 20, the agencies say that the plaintiff is barred from recovering damages because “decedent’s contributory fault and failure to exercise due care for his own safety is more than 50 percent of the proximate cause of the injury for which recovery is sought.”

If the plaintiff’s contributory negligence is determined to be less than 50 percent, any damages allowed must be diminished in proportion to the amount of fault attributable to plaintiff for failure to exercise ordinary care in causing his own injuries, the defendants argue.

The agencies also say that any damages the plaintiff suffered “were directly caused or directly contributed to by the negligence or fault of a third party for which Defendants had not control.”

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

The agencies are represented by Donald J. Ohl and Heather Mueller-Jones of Knapp, Ohl & Green in Edwardsville.

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

Beltz is represented by Ted N. Gianaris and G. Michael Stewart of Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd in Alton. She seeks a judgment of more than $400,000.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-692


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