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St. John v. R.r. Donnelley & Sons Co.

MAY 24, 1972.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Coles County; the Hon. ROBERT F. COTTON, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Inc., a Corporation, appeals from a judgment in the sum of $42,000 entered upon a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, William Lloyd St. John, Individually, and Mary E. St. John, Individually, for the death of their son incurred from a fall while in the course of his employment.

The sole issue is whether the roof of the structure involved in the occurrence, under the facts of the case, constitutes a scaffold within the meaning of the applicable law.

The Structural Work Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, Chapter 48, Section 60) provides:

"All scaffolds, hoists, stays, ladders, supports or other mechanical contrivances, erected * * * for the use in the erection, repairing, alteration, removal or painting of any house, building, bridge, viaduct, or other structure shall be erected in a safe, suitable and proper manner and shall be so erected and constructed, placed and operated as to give proper and adequate protection to the life and limb of any person or persons employed or engaged thereon * * *."

The plaintiff's complaint alleges that the defendant violated the provisions of the said section by the wilful failure to provide the decedent with a safe, suitable and proper scaffold upon or about which to work.

The facts regarding the occurrence are not controverted. In late March or early April of 1967, the R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Inc., defendant herein, through its general contractor, Campbell-Lowrie-Lautermilch Corporation, began work on a new plant on Route 45, North of Mattoon, Illinois. The superstructure was completed July 21, 1967, and the roofing process was nearing completion. The structural work for the roof was finished, the gypsum deck had been poured and hardened, and the roofers were applying the waterproofing.

On the afternoon of July 21, 1967, at about 3:30 P.M., Mr. Swanson, a foreman for Campbell-Lowrie-Lautermilch, Inc., sent employees to the roof to clean away the debris so that the felt and tar waterproofing could be laid on a portion of the roof. Two of the employees, James Edwards, and David St. John, son of the plaintiffs, began removing large runways that had been used as substitute roofing to cover openings left to accommodate heating, lighting, ventilating and light facilities to be installed later. The runways of two-by-fours with one-by-sixes nailed across were ten feet long by thirty-six to forty-two inches wide and weighed seventy to eighty pounds each. These runways had been used as temporary coverings over the openings while buggies of liquid gypsum were being transported across the roof.

The roof was approximately thirty-two feet over the freshly poured concrete floor.

The holes which were over a large part of the roof were to accommodate various pieces of duct work, machinery, lighting and drainage. James Edwards and David St. John, son of the plaintiffs, pursuant to their instructions from Mr. Swanson, a foreman for Campbell-Lowrie-Lautermilch Corporation, worked their way across the roof removing the runways and stacking them near the edge of the roof. Upon reaching a certain runway, approximately twenty feet from the south edge of the roof on the southeast corner of the roof, the two men picked up this runway, and Edwards stepped one or two steps backward. As he stepped backward, he felt the other end of the runway drop. Edwards immediately looked and David St. John had disappeared. He looked through the hole in the roof and saw David St. John on the concrete below.

The runway which was being carried by the employees bore an inscription, "DO NOT MOVE" in red crayon, letters three to four inches high. This inscription had been placed on the runway in question two days prior to the occurrence by Elmer Ross, a foreman for Campbell-Lowrie-Lautermilch, Inc.

• 1 It is the opinion of this court that the inscription on the runways has no probative value as to the issues herein, since the task being performed in the removing of the runways was specifically assigned to the employees.

The appellant in his brief, acknowledges that Louis v. Barenfanger, 39 Ill.2d 445, established new law in the State of Illinois, holding that an integral part of a structure may, under proper ...

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