The City Must Use Reasonable Care When Repairing Areas of the Roadway Where a Person May Park

The court in DeMambro v. City of Springfield discussed local governments obligation to use reasonable care when repairing the roadways. The issue arose under the Tort Immunity Act, specifically section 3-102. That section provides as follows: “Accept as otherwise provided in this article, a local public entity has the duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition for the use in the exercise of ordinary care of people whom the entity intended and permitted to use the property in a manner in which and at such times as it was reasonably foreseeable that it would be used.” (745 ILCS 10/3-102(a).

In DeMambro the plaintiff injured her ankle when she slipped in a pothole while attempting to enter her vehicle, which was lawfully parked, near the curb on a city street. The trial court held that the city owed no duty of reasonable care to the plaintiff. Instead, the city was liable only if the action were willful and wanton under the Tort Immunity Act. The court held that plaintiff failed to provide evidence of a “physical manifestation of intent by the city….that it intended for Herndon street to be used by pedestrians.” The court found that there was no evidence that the street had designated parking meters, parking stalls, or line spaces. The court felt the burden would be too significant on the city or municipality to exercise reasonable care whenever a vehicle passenger or driver were entering or exiting the car if it has to do so for any cars who are parked parallel to a roadway. The city relied on Vaughn v. City of West Frankfort, 166 Ill. 2D [155,] 164 [(1995)]. It also relied on Boub v. Township of Wayne, 183 Ill. 2D 520[(1998)].

The Appellate Court (4th District Court of Appeals) reversed the trial court. The court reviewed the case law concerning permitted and intended users under the Tort Immunity Act. In Di Domenico v. Village of Romeoville, 171 Ill. 3D 293, 525 N.E.2d 242 (1988), the Appellate Court concluded the plaintiff was an intended and permitted user of a city street where the person was legally parked parallel to the curbing. In Di Domenico there were no signs, signals, meters or stripes. In contrast, the Supreme Court, four years after Di Domenico, concluded a person was not an intended and permitted user of a six lane highway where he was struck and killed near the center road trying to cross traffic. In Wojdyla v. City of Park Ridge, 148 Ill. 2D 417, 420-22, 592 N.E.2d 1098, 1100-01 (1992), the Supreme Court distinguished Di Domenico. The big difference in the Wojdyla case that the plaintiff was crossing the highway when he was struck and killed by a car. In another case, a plaintiff was exiting his parked truck to deliver boxes and stepped in a pothole. The court held that he was an intended and permitted user of the street. Curatola v. Village of Niles, 154 Ill. 2D 201, 608 N.E.2d 882 (1993).

The Supreme Court in Vaughn said that the plaintiff who was injured when she fell while tripping on a pothole was not using the street for its “intended” purposes because she was walking outside of the established crosswalk. The Supreme Court in Vaughn said ” except for those cases in which street defects were in the area immediately around a parked vehicle, Illinois courts have refused to impose a duty on municipalities for injuries to pedestrians which were caused by those defects. The Appellate Court indicated the trial court should not focus on a “physical manifestation” by the city that it intended the street to be used by pedestrians.

For personal injury claims Ackerman Law Office is the premiere law firm in central Illinois.