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Skezas v. Safeway Steel Products

JUNE 29, 1967.

PAUL SKEZAS, PLAINTIFF,

v.

SAFEWAY STEEL PRODUCTS, INC., A CORPORATION, AND UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT AND THIRD PARTY PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, AND CROSS-APPELLANT,

v.

UNIVERSAL DELTA, A CO-PARTNERSHIP, AND THE TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION, THIRD PARTY DEFENDANTS. APPEAL OF THE TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION, THIRD PARTY DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND CROSS-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DAVID A. CANEL, Judge, presiding. Affirmed. MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied October 6, 1967.

This involves an appeal and a cross-appeal from a judgment on a third party action for indemnity. The trial court found against third party plaintiff generally, but granted no monetary relief.

To understand the contentions on appeal it is first necessary that we identify the parties and describe the circumstances giving rise to this appeal.

Paul Skezas was an employee of Universal Delta. The latter was a subcontractor on a renovation job at a plant owned by United States Steel Corporation (Steel). The Travelers Insurance Company (Travelers) was the insurer of Universal Delta. On April 2, 1957, Skezas was injured in a fall from a scaffold. For injuries sustained he brought suit against Safeway Steel Products, Inc., the owner of the scaffold, and Steel.

Steel, in turn, filed a third party complaint against Universal Delta and Travelers. The third party complaint set out parts of the contract between Steel and Universal Delta. Of particular import was paragraph 16, which read in part as follows:

"16. The safety of all persons employed by Contractor and his subcontractors on Owner's premises, . . . shall be the sole responsibility of Contractor. Contractor shall at all times maintain good order among his employees and shall not employ on the work any unfit person or anyone not skilled in the work assigned to him.

"Contractor shall take all reasonable measures and precautions at all times to prevent injuries to . . . any of his employees. . . . Such measures and precautions shall include, but shall not be limited to, all safeguards and warnings necessary to protect workmen . . . against any conditions on Owner's premises which could be dangerous and to prevent accidents of any kind whenever work is being performed in proximity to any moving or operating machinery, equipment or facilities, whether such machinery, equipment or facilities are the property of or are being operated by, the Contractor, his subcontractors, the Owner or other persons."

Paragraph 17 of that contract required Universal Delta to procure certain insurance. Travelers issued policies to Universal Delta and a certificate of insurance to Steel. The certificate and endorsement thereon provided that Travelers had issued certain listed policies to Universal Delta. In the actual policy there was a contractual liability coverage endorsement which insured Universal Delta against liability assumed by it under the contract with Steel. The certificate, on its face, stated:

"This is to certify that policies of insurance as described below have been issued to the insured named below and are in force at this time. . . . The insurance afforded is subject to all of the terms of the policy applicable thereto."

In March of 1961, the main action was settled with Skezas by payment of $75,000. Steel and Travelers each paid one-half that amount. The parties then went to trial on the third party complaint. The parties who had paid the settlement amount entered into a stipulation agreement. That agreement provided that Steel was the owner of the plant and that Universal Delta was the painting contractor for the renovation work. The specific circumstances leading up to and including the accident were set out as follows:

"Paul Skezas, the plaintiff was employed by Universal Delta as a painter. April 2, 1957, the day of his accident, was his first day on the job at the Supply Division plant. The work of Skezas and his crew was to spray-paint the areas on the lower portions of the trusses of the building which the painting crews of Universal Delta had been unable to reach the preceding day.

"(d) The trusses were approximately 32' above floor level. For this purpose the men were using a scaffold which had been rented by Universal Delta from defendant Safeway Steel Products, Inc. by order placed April 1, 1957. The parts of the scaffold had been delivered on April 1, 1957, and the scaffold was assembled late that day or early on the morning of April 2, 1957. The scaffold as assembled was 30' high. The scaffold rolled on casters.

"(e) Skezas and a fellow employee named Cooper were working on a platform at the top of the scaffold. The scaffold had been moved two or three times to reach new locations, being pushed by members of the crew, Skezas and Cooper riding the platform at the top of the scaffold. As the scaffold was being so moved shortly after the noon lunch hour, the scaffold tipped. Skezas fell approximately 30' to the floor, sustaining the injuries for which this suit was brought."

The case was tried without a jury on the pleadings, the stipulation agreement, and trial briefs of Steel and Travelers. The court found against third party plaintiff Steel and in favor of Universal Delta and Travelers. It refused, however, to order ...


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