Little v. Blue Goose Motor Coach Co.

346 Ill. 266, 178 N.E. 496 (1931)



While on appeal to the county court the trial is reviewed de novo, yet when an appeal was dismissed and a procedendo issued to the justice of the peace the judgment of the justice of the peace becomes a final determination of that issue between the parties, and is conclusive not only upon the immediate parties to that suit but also upon all persons in privity with them, and cannot be litigated again between the parties to that case or their privies in any subsequent action in the same or other court where that question arises, whether upon the same or a different cause of action or whatever may have been the nature or purpose of the action in which the judgment was rendered or of that in which the estoppel is set up.


Plaintiff challenged the lower court's decision to reverse a recovery under the Injuries Act, in the death of her husband arising out of a motor vehicle accident with defendant. The declaration consisted of two counts. The first was a general charge of negligence, and the second charged that the defendant willfully operated its bus, causing injury to the deceased. Defendant moved to instruct the jury to find defendant not guilty because of another judgment against plaintiff, alleging that the issue of the negligence of plaintiff's husband and that of the driver of the bus was settled and could not be raised in the present suit. The Appellate Court reversed a money judgment for the death of plaintiff's husband because defendant had been successful in a negligence action arising from the same circumstances which it brought against plaintiff's husband.


Should the wife's claim for willful negligence prosper?




The Court found that the court's findingthat the collision was caused by the negligence of plaintiff's husband necessarily was a finding of fact on a willful negligence count as well as the general negligence count. Hence, the defendant could not be guilty of willful negligence. It added that plaintiff could not bring an action for damages because it was based on circumstances under which her husband, were he alive, could not bring an action against the defendant.

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