Rare win for an injury victim: court affirms rejection of City's summary disposition motion
The City of Lincoln Park appealed after the trial judge refused to grant it summary disposition of Lisa Zezula's injury claim. Lincoln Park's lawyers argued that Zezula had not presented enough evidence to suggest that the road where she was hurt was not "in reasonable repair" as required by statute. The woman had presented photographs of Marion Street demonstrating that there was a "spike" protruding 3/4" above street level from the street. A City employee had admitted that the spike was at least 1/2" above street level. This was sufficient evidence to create a question of fact about the reasonableness of the street condition.
The City also argued that Zezula had not proved it had notice of an unsafe condition. While the Court rejected the idea that complaints to local police and city waste collectors constituted adequate notice of the condition, it pointed out that the evidence about these complaints appeared to demonstrate that the condition had existed for well over 30 days. If the jury were to determine that a hazard existed for more than 30 days, it would be presumed that the City "knew or should have known of the problem."
Thus, the injured woman had presented facts from which a reasonable jury could conclude that the City violated its statutory duty: the case is not appropriate for summary disposition when a genuine fact issue remains for decision by the Constitutionally-guaranteed jury of Zezula's peers.