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Crum v. Gulf Oil Corp.

MAY 17, 1973.

FOUNTAIN CRUM, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

GULF OIL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT AND THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT. JOHN CROWN, DEFENDANT AND THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,

v.

CURRY & MARCHMAN WELL SERVICING COMPANY, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. HAROLD R. CLARK, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CREBS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied August 6, 1973.

Plaintiff, Fountain Crum, was injured when he fell over a flow line owned by Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff, Gulf Oil Corporation, hereafter referred to as Gulf. Crum was employed by the Third Party Defendant, Curry and Marchman Well Servicing Company. Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff, John Crown, was a pumper for Gulf.

In August of 1968 Crown received orders from his supervisor to have Curry and Marchman pull the pipe and tubing out of the well called Smail Number 7. Crown's job included inspecting Smail Number 7. Gulf wanted to use the pipe and tubing at a different well. Crum was injured while he was walking backwards carrying the pipe. He tripped over a flow line. The flow line was above the ground and grass and weeds had grown up around it making it difficult to see.

Crum brought an action against both Gulf and Crown in the Circuit Court of Madison County. Gulf filed an Answer and brought an action against Curry and Marchman pursuant to an indemnification contract between them.

The jury returned a verdict against Gulf and in favor of Crum for $175,000. The jury found in favor of defendant, Crown, over Plaintiff, Crum. They found for Curry and Marchman over Gulf. The jury found that Crum was not guilty of contributory negligence, that neither Crown nor Curry and Marchman were actively negligent, and that Gulf was actively negligent. Gulf has appealed.

Subsequent to the taking of this appeal by Gulf, we received notice that Gulf and Crum settled their portion of this suit. We are therefore concerned only with the portion of the appeal as it affects the suit between Gulf and Curry and Marchman on the Third Party Complaint.

Gulf has raised several points on appeal. Among them is the trial court's alleged failure to adhere to Supreme Court Rule 216, Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 110A, par. 216.

• 1 It appears that on January 23, 1970 Gulf filed a Request for Admission of Facts and Genuineness of Documents directed to Curry and Marchman. (Supreme Court Rule 216, Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 110A, par. 216.) Admissions were requested on the following:

1. That on April 22, 1965, Curry and Marchman Well Servicing Company entered into a contract with Gulf Oil Corporation, known as Contract No. E-16, entitled "Blanket Contract".

2. That thereafter, the said Curry and Marchman Well Servicing Company performed services under said blanket contract by executing later purchase orders, as the need for work developed, subject to the terms of the blanket contract.

3. That "Exhibit A" attached hereto is a copy of said blanket contract.

4. That said contract was in full force and effect at the time of the alleged injury to plaintiff herein.

The Third Party Defendant, Curry and Marchman, did not file a denial or an objection or any response to the Request within 28 days or at any other time as provided by Supreme Court Rule 216. (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 110A, par. 216.) The record discloses that proper service was made pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 11 (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 110A, par. 11), and that service was proved in compliance with Supreme Court Rule 12. (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 110A, par. 12.) During the trial the attorneys for Curry and Marchman denied that they had received copies of the request and moved to deny all matters set forth in the request. Gulf objected but the trial court allowed Curry and Marchman's motion. This was error. In Bernier v. Schaefer, 11 Ill.2d 525, 529, the court said: "If the proper giving of the notice can now be frustrated by the mere allegation of the defendant that he did not receive it, then ...


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