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Crane Erectors v. La Salle Nat'l Bank

OPINION FILED JULY 13, 1984.

CRANE ERECTORS AND RIGGERS, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

LA SALLE NATIONAL BANK, TRUSTEE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS (THE GREAT WEST LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. John S. Teschner, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Crane Erectors and Riggers, Inc. (Crane), filed suit to enforce its claim for lien for the value of services performed in assembling, erecting and installing an overhead crane in a warehouse. As material here, the suit named as defendants Lefco, Inc., Leffingwell Steel Company, The Great West Life Assurance Company (Great West) and the La Salle National Bank, as trustee (La Salle). La Salle is named as the owner of the property and Great West is named as its successor in title. The trial court entered summary judgment for Crane, awarding a mechanics' lien in the amount of $17,832.22. Great West appeals.

The facts are established by the pleadings, affidavits, answers to interrogatories and a deposition.

On October 26, 1981, Crane received a purchase order from Lefco accepting its proposal to provide:

"labor, tools and equipment to receive and unload from truck shipment and immediately install, mechanically and electrically, one (1), 25 ton capacity, cab operated 80'0" span, double girder, motor driven, top running P & H crane weighing approximately 100,300#.

Also included is the installation of 240' of 3 conductor, enclosed figure-8-bar main line electrification system with bolted brackets.

* * * to furnish, fabricate, deliver and install 135# crane rails with accessories for the 240' long runway. Alignment for proper span and parallelism is included. Estimated shipping weight 25,665#."

The proposal was sent to Leffingwell Steel Company, but was accepted by Lefco, Inc., at the same address. The contract price was $32,107.

Lefco occupied a wholesale steel warehouse in which the crane was to be used to move rolls of steel. La Salle held title to the property under Trust No. 44679, for the beneficial interest of Leffingwell Steel Company. Great West, which subsequently purchased the property, concedes that Lefco entered the contract with Leffingwell's knowledge and consent.

Louis F. Bodee, the president of Crane, testified in his deposition taken May 31, 1983, "I very reasonably believe" that the crane was leased from a "leasing company." The parties agree that Crane did not supply the crane. No lease, however, has been offered or introduced.

Bodee described the work. Crane installed two rails overhead about 45 feet above the floor, approximately 80 feet apart and running the length of the building. The building is designed with "runway beams or girders," which are supported by building columns and which have been sized to support the crane runway rails. The rails are attached to the runway beams with a "J" fastener which permits adjustment of the rails laterally.

The crane "to some extent" is built on the runway. First the rails are shipped in and installed. They are in 39-foot sections and are spliced together to make a 240-foot length of rail. The crane is then unloaded in parts, as received. It goes up in components. The crane consists of a "cab on a trolley." The trolley is a lifting mechanism, on wheels, which runs back and forth on two girders. It has a hoist and some controls. Power conductors, similar to overhead wires which electrical street cars employ, are installed along the runway. The crane runs over the whole 240-foot length.

The crane is used to handle rolls of steel, to off-load them from rail cars or flat-bed trailers, and to place them into or remove them from storage.

Bodee testified that "[i]t would probably be impractical to move this crane." However, he also testified that removal could be accomplished ...


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