Monday, February 15, 2010

Watch where you walk!

In a recent Cook County Court of Appeals case, Judge Antonietti decided that Metra did not owe Donald Pence a duty to tend to a protruding bolt from a railroad tie.

Both the arguments and decisions were very interesting. Pence, on his way to the Metra train, tripped and fell from a protruding railway tie bolt. As a result he sustained what I assume is a colles fracture. (A common fracture in the wrist as people try breaking their fall with their hands). Pence argued Metra owed him a duty as a passenger to maintain its premises. However Metra claimed they owed no duty to Pence because Pence was not a passenger at the time of his trip and fall and he did not walk in the designated pedestrian crosswalk.

J. Antonietti affirmed the lower court’s opinion stating, “while Pence may have intended to be a passenger on a Metra train, he had not yet become a passenger at the time of his fall. Pence had not yet reached a ‘proper place to be transported’ and we cannot say that Metra had even impliedly accepted him for transportation.” Skelton, 214 Ill. App. 3d at 572.

Moreover The Tort Immunity Act applied because Pence did not walk in the designated pedestrian crosswalk, rather he walked in the middle of the intersection. Therefore Pence was “not an intended and permitted user of the property”.

Moral of the story, watch where you walk and use crosswalks.

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