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Carlson v. Moline Board of Education

OPINION FILED JUNE 6, 1984.

CRAIG CARLSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE MOLINE BOARD OF EDUCATION, SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 40, MOLINE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon. John Donald O'Shea, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied July 13, 1984.

This action was commenced by the plaintiff, Craig Carlson, against the Moline Board of Education, the defendant, in the circuit court of Rock Island County. The plaintiff sought to recover money damages for personal injuries he incurred. The complaint alleged three theories for recovery. The complaint recited a cause of action in common law negligence, for which both compensatory and punitive damages were sought. The complaint recited a cause of action under the Structural Work Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 60 et seq.). Finally, the complaint recited a cause of action under the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 10-20.21). In an interlocutory order, the circuit court dismissed the causes of action under the Structural Work Act and the School Code, finding in the dismissal order that there was no just reason for delaying enforcement or appeal. The plaintiff seeks our review of that decision.

Sometime prior to March 2, 1982, the defendant advertised for public bid a construction project to perform certain repairs on the school building owned by the defendant. Specifically, the project entailed the removal of floor tile and underlayment and the repair and replacement thereof. In the performance of this project, it was specified that an assembly of lockers would be removed to permit the floor repairs to be completed, with the locker assembly to be reinstalled at the completion of the project. Edstrom Carpets was the successful bidder and was awarded the contract to make the repairs.

The plaintiff was an employee of Edstrom Carpets assigned by his employer to perform work on the subject contract. During the course of his work, the assembly of lockers tipped over and fell on the plaintiff. The blow from the assembly of lockers, which was 8 1/2 feet high, 108 feet long, and 4,000 pounds in weight, caused the plaintiff severe injuries and rendered him a paraplegic.

As earlier recited, the plaintiff filed a complaint in the circuit court of Rock Island County seeking to recover damages for his tragic injuries. In response to that complaint, the defendant filed a motion attacking the pleading pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-615). That motion challenged the plaintiff's alleged cause of action under the Structural Work Act and under the School Code. The circuit court granted the defendant's motion and dismissed both causes of action. Further, the circuit court denied the plaintiff leave to amend his pleadings. The plaintiff urges us to hold that the relief granted by the circuit court exceeded the appropriate scope of relief available under section 2-615.

• 1 Before reaching the issue raised by the plaintiff on appeal, we must first turn to an affirmative matter raised by the defendant in its brief. The defendant asserts that this appeal was improperly brought, and therefore we are without jurisdiction to consider its merits since no final order has been entered with respect to the cause of action alleged in plaintiff's complaint. Supreme Court Rule 304 (87 Ill.2d R. 304(a)) provides:

"If multiple parties or multiple claims for relief are involved in an action, an appeal may be taken from a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the parties or claims only if the trial court has made an express written finding that there is no just reason for delaying enforcement or appeal."

The defendant urges that the order of the circuit court dismissing the causes of action under the Structural Work Act and the School Code is not a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims of the plaintiff. We need not consider this contention at length, since the appellate court on prior occasions has considered this very issue. In each case, the court has determined that where the elements of proof for several causes of action are separate and distinct, then each cause of action constitutes a separate claim. (Weber v. Northern Illinois Gas Co. (1973), 10 Ill. App.3d 625, 295 N.E.2d 41; Rone v. Boncar Construction Co. (1976), 45 Ill. App.3d 1, 358 N.E.2d 1315; Freeman v. White Way Sign & Maintenance Co. (1980), 82 Ill. App.3d 884, 403 N.E.2d 495.) The cases cited by the defendant are more than adequately distinguished by these authorities for us to conclude that the order of the circuit court was a final judgment as to two separate claims brought by the plaintiff. Therefore, we do have jurisdiction of this appeal.

• 2 We cannot agree with the plaintiff's assertion that the dismissal of the claims under the Structural Work Act and the School Code exceeds the scope of relief available under section 2-615. We agree with the plaintiff that a motion under this section of the Code of Civil Procedure admits all well-pleaded facts. However, such a motion does not admit the conclusions of law to be drawn from those facts. (Richards v. Leimbacher (1971), 131 Ill. App.2d 775, 267 N.E.2d 523; Chicago Teachers Union v. Board of Education (1973), 14 Ill. App.3d 154, 301 N.E.2d 833.) In reviewing the sufficiency of the cause of action alleged, the plaintiff is entitled to all the reasonable intendments and inferences which can be drawn from the facts alleged. The court is not required to reach unreasonable and unwarranted conclusions, to draw unreasonable and unwarranted inferences, in order to sustain the sufficiency of the complaint. Where the complaint can be sustained only with such assaults on common experience, the circuit court may properly dismiss the claim pursuant to a section 2-615 motion.

• 3 Given, then, that the circuit court did not exceed its permissible authority in dismissing the plaintiff's causes of action under the Structural Work Act and the School Code, we next address the issue of whether the circuit court properly exercised its permissible authority. The School Code requires that school boards such as the defendant:

"let all contracts for supplies, materials or work or contracts with private carriers for transportation of pupils involving an expenditure in excess of $5000 to the lowest responsible bidder after due advertisement * * *." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 122, par. 10-20.21.)

The plaintiff urges that where a school board fails to let contracts to "responsible" bidders, any resulting personal injuries give rise to a cause of action against the school board. The plaintiff further alleges that Edstrom Carpets was not a "responsible" bidder, and because of its irresponsibility, the plaintiff was injured. We believe the purpose of the section of the School Code above cited was to provide protection for taxpayers of a particular school district from financially irresponsible contractors. (Beaver Glass & Mirror Co. v. Board of Education (1978), 59 Ill. App.3d 880, 376 N.E.2d 377.) The statute was not designed to protect the safety of employees of successful bidders. Hence, we conclude that no cause of action accrued under the above-cited section of the School Code.

"Where the suit alleges injury due to violation of a statute, the doctrine of standing requires that the plaintiff be one of the class designed to be protected by the statute, or for whose benefit the statute was enacted, and to whom a duty of compliance is owed. [Citations.] The object of the statute, the nature of the duty imposed by it, and the benefits resulting from its performance dictate what persons are ...


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