Mudge denies summary judgment sought by Granite City in pedestrian suit

By Ann Maher | Jul 30, 2014

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge has denied summary judgment sought by the City of Granite City in a personal injury suit brought by a pedestrian who fell on a city street.

In a July 25 order, Mudge wrote that the city, represented by attorney Eric Evans, had convinced him that a municipality does not owe a duty to pedestrians who walk on streets outside of crosswalks because a pedestrian is not an intended user of the street.

But, Mudge wrote that Granite City did not address a line of cases that “carve out an exception for pedestrians who are leaving or returning to lawfully parked automobiles because they are intended and permitted users of the street immediately surrounding such vehicles.”

“The exception is a narrow one and involves ‘only the permitted and intended use of the street immediately around a legally parked vehicle by its exiting and entering operators and occupants,’” he wrote, citing Curatola v. Village of Niles.

Plaintiff Kelly Timmons claims in his suit filed last year that he was picking up his four-year-old son from a day care center known as Wee Care Learning Center on Dec. 5, 2012, at 2601 Grand Avenue. The pair was walking back to Timmons’s vehicle when Timmons fell on an uneven section of the road, according to the complaint.

Timmons blames Granite City for causing his fall, saying the city negligently allowed a large section of its road to remain uneven, allowed a drop-off of several inches on the surface of the road, failed to repair a deteriorating section of the road, failed to erect barriers to warn of the unsafe condition and failed to repair the defective road.

In his order, Mudge wrote that in light of the summary judgment standard – a drastic remedy which must be awarded with great caution - he is “reluctant to preempt plaintiff’s right to trial by jury to fully present the factual basis of his case where reasonable people can draw different inferences from undisputed facts.”

“This court must construe the evidence strictly against the city and liberally in favor of the plaintiff when making its decision,” he wrote.

Mudge noted that no evidence has been submitted to indicate that plaintiff was not allowed to park where he did.

“To the contrary, a photograph of a city sign limited parking to 30 minutes at the location was submitted by plaintiff,” he wrote. “This clearly suggests that plaintiff was parked in an area permitted and intended to be a parking space and that he was using the street in a foreseeable manner.”

Timmons is represented by William J. Mateyka of Mateyka and Associates in Granite City and is seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-2013.

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