Decision for Soldier Field lot operator SP Plus in woman's trip-and-fall suit overturned on appeal

By Chandra Lye | Aug 10, 2018

CHICAGO - A state appeals panel overruled a Cook County judge, finding a woman may be allowed to continue with her personal injurylawsuit against the company that manages a parking lot near Soldier Field, as they said the Cook County judge may have erred in finding the low pole over which the woman allegedly tripped while leaving an event may not have been as open and obvious as the lower court judge believed.

On July 20, a three-justice panel of Illinois First District Appellate Court in a personal injury lawsuit that accuses SP Plus Corp. of negligence.

According to the decision entered July 20, the justices found the Cook County Circuit Court judge was wrong to grant a summary judgement in favor of the defendants.

Justice Maureen E. Connors authored the decision, which was filed as an unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23, limiting its use as precedent. Justices Thomas E. Hoffman and Joy V. Cunningham concurred in the decision.

Justice Maureen Connors   Illinois Courts

The alleged incident occurred Aug. 23, 2015 after plaintiff Georgia Christakes was  leaving a concert at Soldier Field. While making her way through the parking lot, Christakes claims she tripped over a low pole, fell and broke her wrist and tibia. 

The court noted Christakes conceded she did not see the pole because she was distracted and there was a large crowd leaving the venue. 

"Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment where there existed a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the bollard was an open and obvious hazard, and if it was, whether plaintiff injured herself running into the bollard due to a foreseeable distraction that would defeat the open and obvious defense,” Connors wrote.

Meanwhile, the appeals court said Christakes claimed SP Plus "was negligent by maintaining its bollards ‘at an unsafe height dangerous to pedestrians, particularly in an event setting,’ and failing ‘to warn of the presence of the bollards when it knew or should have known that pedestrians would fail to appreciate them, particularly in an event setting.’”

In its ruling, the trial court noted the hazard was open and obvious. 

The appellate court reversed the decision, saying "(The trial) court erred in granting summary judgment where there exists a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the bollard plaintiff tripped over was open and obvious, and whether the distraction exception applies."

According to Cook County court records, Christakes is represented by the firm of Motherway & Napleton, of Chicago.

SP Plus is defended by the firm of Bollinger Connolly Krause, of Chicago.

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Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois First District Appellate Court Motherway and Napleton

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