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Central Steel & Wire Co. v. Coating Research

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 7, 1977.

CENTRAL STEEL & WIRE CO., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

COATING RESEARCH CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. GEORGE E. DOLEZAL, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from a judgment for plaintiff in the amount of $1,799.04 after a bench trial. The amount represented a balance due on the account between the parties for the sale and delivery of a quantity of material. Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in allowing the impeachment of its president without a foundation having been laid and in admitting certain business records; and (2) that the evidence established plaintiff contracted and did business with a third party, Coating Research Corporation of Michigan, and not with defendant.

Only two witnesses testified in this case. James Miller, an inside salesman for plaintiff, stated that in February, 1975, he received a telephone order for material from Rich Vignola, who said he was ordering for Coating Research Corporation, in Schaumburg, Illinois (defendant herein), and that Vignola requested that the material be delivered to E-Z Grinding Company, also in Schaumburg. In March 1975, the material was delivered as requested, and a billing was sent to defendant for $1,854.04 — of which only $75 has been paid.

Richard Vignola, president of defendant company, denied ordering the material in question and denied promising that defendant would pay for it. He said that defendant had never done business with plaintiff and the type of material involved (aluminum) was not used in the regular course of defendant's operations. He remembered receiving a billing for the material but stated his belief that he told plaintiff to send the bill to Coating Research Corporation of Michigan, located in Detroit. Vignola admitted that he designed and assembled a machine for the Michigan corporation and that the material in question which had been sent to E-Z Grinding was eventually used in the machine he had designed. He also recalled having telephone conversations with personnel of plaintiff subsequent to the original billing for the material but stated he made no promise that defendant would pay it.

Vignola testified that Carl Bagnell had asked him in September 1974 to design the machine and that Bagnell, being without funds, said he would form a corporation and give Vignola stock for the work he was to do. Although Coating Research Corporation of Michigan was incorporated on November 5, 1974, with Bagnell as president, Vignola said he never received any stock and did not know whether he was listed as an officer but he did cosign some of that company's checks with Bagnell.

A number of exhibits offered by plaintiff were received in evidence, including the telephone order form in the handwriting of Miller, which bears the name of defendant as the customer and Rich Vignola as the caller. Included also was a follow-up billing which was admitted for the limited purpose of showing that plaintiff had billed defendant.

OPINION

Defendant first contends that the trial court improperly allowed impeachment of its president, Vignola.

During a section 60 examination, after Vignola had denied any promise to pay for the materials, he was asked the following question by plaintiff's attorney:

"So, if I told you that my records show that you had a conversation with the Credit Manager at Central Steel and Wire on September 16, 1975 in which you promised payment, would you say that was incorrect?"

Thereafter, the following colloquy occurred:

"MR. RUDNIK: Objection, your Honor. He's already answered.

MR. MEYER: No. He can answer that.

THE COURT: Let him finish his ...


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