Haymes v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 40681

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation41 Ill.2d 336,243 N.E.2d 203
Docket NumberNo. 40681,40681
Parties, 38 A.L.R.3d 473 Kenneth HAYMES, Appellant and Cross-Appellee, v. CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CHICAGO, Appellee and Cross-Appellant.
Decision Date22 November 1968

Page 203

243 N.E.2d 203
41 Ill.2d 336, 38 A.L.R.3d 473
Kenneth HAYMES, Appellant and Cross-Appellee,
CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CHICAGO, Appellee and Cross-Appellant.
No. 40681.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Nov. 22, 1968.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 28, 1969.

[41 Ill.2d 337]

Page 204

Philip H. Corboy, Joseph V. McGovern, and James P. Chapman, Chicago, for appellant.

Hinshaw, Culbertson, Moelmann & Hoban, Chicago (John L. Kirkland, and D. Kendall Griffith, Chicago, of counsel), for appellee.

SOLFISBURG, Chief Justice.

Plaintiff, Kenneth Haymes, a minor, was awarded damages of $10,000 in a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County for injuries sustained in an accident in the St. Pancratius School, allegedly caused by the negligence of defendant, Catholic Bishop of Chicago. Plaintiff has appealed directly to this court, pursuant to Rule 302(a), Ill.Rev.Stat.1967, c. 110A, § 302(a), on the issue of damages only, challenging the constitutionality of the provision of the School Tort Liability Act limiting liability of nonprofit private schools to $10,000. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1959, chap. 122, par. 825; subd. B.) Defendant has filed a cross [41 Ill.2d 338] appeal contending that the verdict is not supported by evidence, and that there were reversible trial errors.

The trial court rejected plaintiff's argument that section 825, subd. B of the School Code limiting damages to $10,000 is unconstitutional in that it violated section 22 of article IV of the Illinois constitution, S.H.A. and the 'establishment of religion' clause of the Federal constitution.

Those constitutional questions are presented by plaintiff's direct appeal which is limited to the issue of damage only; however, inasmuch as defendant's cross appeal asserts that the record contains no basis for any liability, that issue must be determined first, and it requires a review of the evidence.

At about 3 P.M. on January 18, 1960, a snowy and overcast day, plaintiff a 7th grade student at St. Pancratius School, entered the cloakroom adjoining his classroom to obtain his coat prior to going on duty as a patrol boy. The cloakroom had one window, which was next to one of the doors connecting the room to the classroom, so that when the door was open the window was partially blocked. The cloakroom had one electric light which, according to plaintiff's testimony, was never lit, and was not lit on the day in question. The teacher didn't remember whether it was lit.

According to plaintiff's testimony the room was 'dark' and the floor was 'slippery.' The floors of the cloakroom and classroom were linoleum. They had been waxed and buffed in September, 1959, and about once a month thereafter the 'scuff marks' were removed with candle wax. That process involved granting church candles of beeswax onto the floor, and directing the children in their stocking feet to stomp the wax into the floor in the area of the scuff marks, and having them sweep it up the following day. Plaintiff testified that he and other pupils had helped the teacher in such activity after school. According to the testimony of plaintiff's teacher, the room was maintained by the [41 Ill.2d 339] pupils and the same practice of removing scuff marks was followed in other classrooms. The teacher, Sister Obrenski, testified that the floor in the cloakroom was not slippery and she didn't know if anyone had slipped in any other room.

When plaintiff went into the cloakroom to get his coat, he slipped on a coat on the floor, and slid on his back some eight feet across the cloakroom, until his feet struck the wall with such force that he did a backward somersault. The coat was wrapped around his leg, and he was unable to move. Pupils passing the cloakroom doorway reported the accident to the teacher, who called the fire department and plaintiff's parents. Plaintiff was taken in an ambulance to the emergency room of the Holy Cross Hospital, where he was treated by Dr. William F. McDonald, the only medical witness in the case.

Page 205

Inasmuch as the essential issues of the case involve the constitutionality of a statute and the existence of liability, the medical evidence will not be detailed, except to note that the plaintiff sustained a fractured hip, entailing two and possibly three operations, with permanent damage, and had to attend schools for physically handicapped children.

On the basis of substantially the foregoing evidence, along with evidence of medical, hospital and outpatient expenses incidental to the surgery and treatment, for jury returned a verdict for plaintiff for $10,000, which sum they were instructed not to exceed.

With respect to the issue of liability, presented by defendant's cross appeal, the law imposes on defendant a duty to plaintiff and other pupils to use reasonable care in the maintenance of St. Pancratius grammar school; and failure to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or doing something which a reasonably careful person would not do under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence, constitutes negligence.

The charge and evidence of negligence here related to [41 Ill.2d 340] the lack of illumination in the cloakroom, and the slippery condition of the floor on which a coat had fallen.

In our view, the jury could have concluded that the cloakroom was not reasonably illuminated, not only from plaintiff's testimony that the room...

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  • Harris v. Trojan Fireworks Co.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 8 Junio 1981
    ...(i. e., make this class disfavored) are violative of constitutional standards. (See, e. g., Haymes v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago (1968) 41 Ill.2d 336, 243 N.E.2d 203, 207 (damage limitation of $10,000 for tort action against a nonprofit school held unconstitutional); Treece v. Shawnee [120 ......
  • Mort v. Walter, 57539
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • 21 Octubre 1983
    ...careful person would do or has done something which a reasonably careful person would not do. (Compare Haymes v. Catholic Bishop (1968), 41 Ill.2d 336, 243 N.E.2d 203, with Long v. City of New Boston (1982), 91 Ill.2d 456, 64 Ill.Dec. 905, 440 N.E.2d 625.) Accordingly, we find no basis to s......
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    • 28 Julio 1977
    ...351 N.E.2d 247, extended the effect of § 24-24 to cover parochial schools on the ground that following Haymes v. Catholic Bishop (1968), 41 Ill.2d 336, 243 N.E.2d 203 it would be an arbitrary classification to treat public schools and non-profit private schools differently. Personally, we h......
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    ...careful person would not do under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence." (Haymes v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago (1968), 41 Ill.2d 336, 339, 243 N.E.2d 203, 205; see also Blackburn v. Johnson (1989), 187 Ill.App.3d 557, 561, 135 Ill.Dec. 200, 203, 543 N.E.2d 583, 586, appeal d......
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