MCT blamed for bicyclist's death, alleging there were no warning signs of intersection

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 7, 2013


A Colorado woman whose husband was struck by a car while riding his bike on a Madison County trail filed an amended complaint on Sept. 23 blaming the defendants for willful and wanton conduct and negligence in the design of the trail.

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, the suit claims.

In her amended complaint, Mary Beltz claims bicyclists are required to navigate the intersection at Route 111 and Horseshoe Lake Road 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.

The amended complaint also claims the Schoolhouse Trail used to be 560 feet south of the intersection prior to its reconstruction.

The defendants named in the suit include Madison County Mass Transit District (MCT), which owns and operates the Schoolhouse Trail; Agency for Community Transit, Inc. (ACT), which is responsible for employees of MCT; and Oates Associates Inc, which oversaw the reconstruction of the trail.

In her amended complaint, Mary Beltz blames MCT and ACT for allegedly failing to provide appropriate signs warning users of the trail of the hazardous or dangerous nature of the intersection, failing to use other methods of warning users of the intersection, failing to enforce safety rules and regulations and failing to provide a safe overpass or underpass to cross the intersection, among other accusations.

Mary Beltz accuses Oates Associates of failing to design the placement of appropriate warning signs, failing to supervise the placement of those signs and failing to design a safe route across an intersection, among other things.

“Oates, in disregard of its aforesaid duties, negligently, or with willful and wanton conduct, acted or failed to act in that Defendant Oates designed a trail it knew or should have known was not properly designed to allow guests, invitees, or other persons, to safely utilize the Schoolhouse Trail at the Intersection,” the amended complaint states.

Mary Beltz also filed a response to the defendants’ motion to dismiss on Sept. 13 claiming that immunity the defendants seek - involving placement of stop signs and natural conditions of the riding trail - is invalid.

She further argues that despite her and her late husband’s Colorado home, Madison County is the proper venue because each defendant does business in Madison County and all events relevant to the cause of action occurred in Madison County.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder scheduled a motion hearing for Nov. 4 at 9 a.m. to hear all pending motions. She also set a case management conference for Oct. 30 at 9 a.m.

On July 31, Mary Beltz denied all affirmative defenses.

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

G. Michael Stewart of Simmons, Browder, Gianaris, Angelides and Barnerd in Alton represents the plaintiff.

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

Donald J. Ohl and Heather Mueller-Jones of Knapp, Ohl & Green in Edwardsville represent MCT and ACT.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-692.

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