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But What if Plaintiff was "Distracted"?

01 Dec 2002

An exception to the "open and obvious" danger principle arises when the defendant should have foreseen that the plaintiff might have been distracted from noticing the danger. The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District recently addressed this in a somewhat bizarre case, Bonner v. City of Chicago, Dkt. No. 1-01-1182, 2002 Ill.App. LEXIS 913 (Oct. 4, 2002). Bonner sued the city for damages he sustained after tripping on a light pole base on the sidewalk on North Damen Avenue. Plaintiff was 72 years old and owned a currency exchange. He was carrying $4,000 in cash in a paper bag for deposit at the bank. He noticed two men in their early twenties staring at him from a bus stop about 70 feet away. The men were standing still and looking in his direction, but did not speak or walk toward him. Nevertheless, plaintiff was so suspicious that he did not take his eyes off of them and tripped. Because this distraction was not reasonably foreseeable to the city, summary judgment was proper.

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