397 N.E.2d 656 (Ind.App. 3 Dist. 1979), 3-1278A318, Koroniotis v. LaPorte Transit, Inc.

Docket Nº:3-1278A318.
Citation:397 N.E.2d 656
Party Name:Christ P. KORONIOTIS and Lottie Koroniotis, Appellants (Plaintiffs Below), v. LA PORTE TRANSIT, INC., John Compton and James H. Drew Corporation, a/k/a James Drew Company, Appellees (Defendants Below).
Case Date:December 11, 1979
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana

Page 656

397 N.E.2d 656 (Ind.App. 3 Dist. 1979)

Christ P. KORONIOTIS and Lottie Koroniotis, Appellants

(Plaintiffs Below),

v.

LA PORTE TRANSIT, INC., John Compton and James H. Drew

Corporation, a/k/a James Drew Company, Appellees

(Defendants Below).

No. 3-1278A318.

Court of Appeals of Indiana, Third District.

December 11, 1979

Page 657

William G. Conover, Roger K. Claudon, Conover, Claudon & Chew, Valparaiso, for appellants.

Jay A. Charon, Robert P. Kennedy, Crown Point, for LaPorte Transit, Inc., and John Compton.

Charles K. Whitted, David W. Pera, Whitted & Buoscio, Merrillville, for James J. Drew Corp. a/k/a James Drew Co.

STATON, Judge.

Christ P. Koroniotis and his wife, Lottie Koroniotis, filed a negligence action against defendants LaPorte Transit, Inc. (LaPorte), John Compton (Compton) and James H. Drew Corporation, a/k/a James Drew Company (Drew). They alleged that the defendants' negligence caused injury to Christ Koroniotis and the loss of his services to his wife in an accident which occurred on the westbound lane of the Indiana Toll Road. The Koroniotises' trial to a jury commenced on May 8, 1978. At the close of the Koroniotises' case in chief, the court granted the motions for judgment on the evidence filed by LaPorte Transit, Compton and Drew.

On appeal, the Koroniotises raise three issues for our review:

(1) Was the judgment on the evidence entered by the trial court in favor of the defendants at the close of Koroniotises' case in chief contrary to the evidence?

(2) Was this judgment on the evidence contrary to law?

Page 658

(3) Did the trial court err in sustaining defendants' objection to the hypothetical question submitted to Koroniotises' accident reconstruction expert?

We affirm.

The facts relevant to our disposition of the case are as follows. Christ Koroniotis was a member of a car pool which commuted to and from work in Chicago by means of a 12-passenger van. The twelve members of the group lived in southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana.

Prior to August 2, 1974, the James H. Drew Corporation (Drew) was engaged in a highway improvement project pursuant to a contract with the Indiana Toll Road Commission. The project involved the installation of a formed concrete median barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the Indiana Toll Road. The work necessitated the use of a large crane and the blocking off of the westbound passing lane of the toll road for three miles prior to the construction. The crane was located near a bridge overpass in the blocked off passing lane. The signs set out to warn motorists of the construction consisted of several 40 mile per hour speed reduction signs and a flashing arrow board which merged traffic into one lane. There were no "flagman ahead" signs installed to warn motorists who were approaching the construction site.

At approximately 7 a. m. on August 2, 1974, four westbound automobiles approached the construction site at or below the posted 40 mile per hour speed. The vehicles in sequence were: a white Ford driven by Ms. LaBroi (LaBroi), an orange Karmann Ghia driven by Mr. Geary (Geary), a passenger van driven by Mr. Koroniotis (Koroniotis) and a tractor-trailer unit driven by Mr. Compton (Compton).

Approximately 100-200 feet before the crane, a flagman, employed by Drew, was positioned one foot into the barricaded passing lane to flag traffic. As LaBroi approached the flagman, she reduced her speed considerably and came almost to a stop. Geary slowed accordingly behind her.

Koroniotis was traveling around 40 miles per hour at a distance of 20 to 25 feet behind Geary. He testified that when he saw Geary slow his car, he began to pump his brakes...

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