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Lavery v. Ridgeway House

DECEMBER 3, 1969.

JAMES LAVERY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

RIDGEWAY HOUSE, INC., A CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WALTER J. KOWALSKI, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Plaintiff brought an action under the Structural Work Act (Ill Rev Stats, c 48, §§ 60-69 (1961)) commonly referred to as the Scaffold Act, against Ridgeway House, Inc., the owner, Sidney Shapiro, the architect, and Lundsberg Company, a cement contractor. At the close of plaintiff's case, the court directed a verdict in favor of all defendants. Plaintiff appeals.

Plaintiff contends that the court erred in directing a verdict, because plaintiff established that he was under the provisions of the Act at the time he incurred his injuries, that defendants had notice of the violation of the Act, and that the defendants were in charge of the work.

Defendants contend that the court properly directed a verdict because plaintiff had failed to prove the foregoing and also failed to prove that there was a violation of the Act that was the proximate cause of plaintiff's injury.

EVIDENCE

BEN COPPLE, called as an adverse witness under section 60 testified as follows:

He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ridgeway House, Inc., and in 1962 the Ridgeway House was going to build a two-story hospital at 522 Ridgeway Avenue in Chicago. Mr. Shapiro, an architect, was retained to prepare and submit plans for the structure. Shapiro had no duties other than to draw up plans and specifications and see that the contractors were employed. Copple testified that he believed there was a contract entered into between Ridgeway and Shapiro, but he did not sign it nor did he bring a copy of the contract to court. Nor did he have any knowledge as to the terms regarding the hiring of contractors, their number or identity. The witness testified that it was not until he took the stand that he learned from plaintiff's counsel that Shapiro hired contractors.

The hospital was constructed to accommodate 100 beds, consisting of two stories with a basement. He met with Shapiro occasionally at the office or for lunch before and after the construction was completed. The witness took no part in the construction work, it was not his function. His function was to sign documents in the event the president of the Board was absent and the witness' real function commenced after the hospital was in operation. He and Shapiro never discussed what was going on at the construction site; that Shapiro was engaged in working on the building as an architect. He did not know what Shapiro did in the construction of the building, except make plans for which Shapiro was paid.

SIDNEY SHAPIRO, called as an adverse witness under section 60 testified as follows:

He is an architect engineer and was employed by Ridgeway Company to prepare plans and specifications. He ordered a survey of the property and prepared sketches and plans and had discussions with the officers of Ridgeway. There was no contract drawn up so that the people that owned the property never signed any document. He was employed to prepare the plans, solicit bids and when he received the bids he submitted them to an officer of Ridgeway who presented them to the Board of Directors of Ridgeway for their approval or disapproval. Ridgeway made its contracts with each individual contractor. He was on the site everyday to see that the contractors followed the intent of the plans and specifications. His duties were to draw the plans, seeing that the contract was let and that the contractors followed the plans and specifications.

He was present at the site every morning, five days a week at 8:00 a.m. and spent 2 to 3 hours coordinating the work of the various trades in getting the job completed. He checked the progress of the work and if he determined that a concrete or mason was needed, he would telephone and advise when the workmen were to appear. There were at least 25 trades and contractors.

He was on the site on the day of the accident and observed that two workers from Lundsberg Company were also present. There was someone in charge of the work Lundsberg Company was doing at the site, the witness supposed it was the two men sent out by Lundsberg Company to do cement work on the roof of the structure.

He had called the office of Lundsberg Company a few days before the accident and advised them to be ready to pour cement. When he arrived at the site on the morning of the accident he observed the two cement men from the Lundsberg Company working. He was aware that the Franvimen Company had furnished and installed the hoist at the site, but did not believe he ever inspected it. The hoist was at the site from the middle of April when it became necessary to hoist material to the second floor. The witness was not at the site when the accident occurred and he never examined the pulley and cable at the top of the hoist to see if it was closed. The hoist was used to haul brick and to haul their masonry materials. As far as the witness knew, Franvimen was the only one who used the hoist until the day of the accident. He never saw any personnel using the hoist for transportation.

The witness testified he was trying to recollect if the Lundsberg Company had obtained permission from the Franvimen Company to use the hoist on the day of the accident. He believes there was some conversation between two men on the job on the morning of the accident but did not know. He further related that there probably was a key to open and close the hoist, but did not know. The key belonged to Franvimen Company and its personnel had the key, but he understood ...


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