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Kelly v. Northwest Community Hospital

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 22, 1978.

JOAN KELLY, INDIV. AND AS ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF JACK KELLY, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

NORTHWEST COMMUNITY HOSPITAL ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MEL R. JIGANTI, Judge, presiding.

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

Plaintiff, Joan Kelly, filed this action against the defendants, Northwest Community Hospital (Northwest or the hospital), Mayfair Construction Company (Mayfair), Schmidt, Garden & Erikson, Architects (Schmidt), and Otis Elevator Company (Otis). Plaintiff sought damages for the wrongful death of the decedent, Jack Kelly, alleging negligence on the part of defendants and violations of the Structural Work Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 48, par. 60 et seq.). On December 24, 1975, the circuit court of Cook County entered summary judgment in favor of all defendants. The plaintiff appeals and we affirm.

The sole issue presented for review is whether or not the trial court properly granted defendants' motions for summary judgment.

Prior to his death on January 21, 1972, Jack Kelly had been treated for mental illness and was hospitalized from March 1 to April 7, 1967, and again from February 18 to April 28, 1968. After his first period of hospitalization, Kelly remained home for 6 weeks, during which time he would become confused and disoriented. He had also been treated at his place of employment by a psychiatrist, Dr. Barchiesi, who prescribed tranquilizers for him during the period from 1968 to 1972.

On January 21, 1972, Kelly became nervous and agitated. He informed his wife, plaintiff Joan Kelly, that he was getting sick. He called his employer and said he would not be in to work. Dr. Barchiesi prescribed tranquilizers for Kelly over the telephone and made an appointment to see him on January 24. At approximately noon on January 21, plaintiff left the house to obtain the prescribed tranquilizers. At that time, her husband was anxious and nervous. She spoke to him several minutes later over the telephone from the pharmacy where she had encountered some delay in filling the prescription. Kelly informed her that he wished to go in search of Dr. Barchiesi himself. She asked him to wait for her to return home, but he did not do so.

At this time, defendant Northwest was constructing a new building as an addition to its existing hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Defendant Mayfair was the general contractor, defendant Schmidt was the architect, and defendant Otis was the elevator subcontractor for this construction. Kelly had been to Northwest for medical treatment on several occasions prior to the date of his death. Kelly was last observed alive on January 21, 1972, when he parked his car in the parking lot at Northwest and walked into the main front entrance of the old hospital building. Subsequently, a scream was heard and a body was observed in the air in the vicinity of the sixth floor at the north end of the building under construction. Kelly's body was found in a courtyard, bounded on the south by the building under construction, between the hours of noon and 1 p.m. Plaintiff's lawsuit was subsequently filed against Northwest and its contractors and subcontractor.

Plaintiff alleged in her second amended complaint that the defendants were guilty of the following negligent acts or omissions:

"(a) Carelessly and negligently managed, maintained and controlled the aforesaid premises and/or their activities thereon so that as a direct and proximate result thereof, plaintiff's decedent sustained injury which resulted in his death.

(b) Allowed free access by plaintiff's decedent * * * to the floors under construction by means of a certain passenger elevator which served floors then in use.

(c) Failed to erect adequate guard rails, barricades or other devices to keep plaintiff's decedent or others from falling from said structure.

(d) Failed to adequately and properly warn plaintiff's decedent of the dangerous condition created by defendants' activities, of which dangerous condition defendants, and each of them, knew or should have known.

(e) Failed to keep plaintiff's decedent from falling from said structure.

(f) Carelessly and negligently created a hazardous condition by their activities on said premises, of which condition defendants, and each of them, knew or should have known could cause injury to ...


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