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Ogg v. Coast Catamaran Corp.

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 25, 1986.

RUSSELL OGG, SPECIAL ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF JANA LOUISE WELCH, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,

v.

COAST CATAMARAN CORPORATION, DEFENDANT AND PETITIONER-APPELLANT, (PHILIP HENRICI, DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT-APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Richard J. Cadagin, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WEBBER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal presents a sequel to the tragic accident whose facts were set forth in our prior opinions in Ogg v. City of Springfield (1984), 121 Ill. App.3d 25, 458 N.E.2d 1331, and Ballweg v. City of Springfield (1984), 130 Ill. App.3d 241, 473 N.E.2d 342. Since it concerns only pleading and procedure questions, no factual recitation is necessary. The questions presented represent an interplay between the recent developments in the law of contribution and comparative negligence.

In the underlying lawsuit, Russell Ogg, as special administrator, sued the city of Springfield (city), Coast Catamaran Corporation (Coast), and Coleman Company, Inc. (Coleman), for the wrongful death of his daughter, Jana Welch. The theory asserted against the city was that of negligence and against Coast and Coleman that of strict liability. The city filed a third-party complaint against Philip Henrici for contribution. Other contribution claims were also filed but are not involved in this appeal.

Henrici, who was injured in the same accident, filed a counterclaim against the city, alleging negligence, and against Coast and Coleman, alleging strict liability.

All of the claims and counterclaims were tried in the same action before a jury in the circuit court of Sangamon County. The jury returned general verdicts in favor of Ogg and against all defendants in the sum of $100,000 and in favor of Henrici and against all counterdefendants in the sum of $175,000.

Because of the complex nature of the case, the parties agreed to give the jury what the court called a "special interrogatory." The "special interrogatory" with the percentages of fault as determined by the jury reads as follows:

"Assuming that 100% represents the total of the proximate causes of the occurrence; what percentage, if any, is attributable to the following:

JANA LOUISE WELCH 0% as a proximate cause PHILIP HENRICI 50% as a proximate cause CITY OF SPRINGFIELD 30% as a proximate cause COAST CATAMARAN CORP. 10% as a proximate cause COLEMAN COMPANY, INC. 10% as a proximate cause OTHERS 0% as a proximate cause _____ 100% Total proximate cause."

The trial court noted the jury's findings with respect to the "special interrogatory" on the docket and entered judgment on the verdicts.

Post-trial motions were filed by all parties. Henrici's motion requested that the court enter judgment in his favor on the city's third-party complaint against him for contribution.

In a letter to the trial court, the attorney for the city stated that the city "is entitled to reduction in Henrici's case and by contribution from Henrici in the Ogg case should Ogg pursue satisfaction against the City of Springfield." The letter went on, requesting that "the judgment in favor of Phillip [sic] Henrici reduced by 50% or contribute 50% to the Ogg case should satisfaction against the City be sought."

The rulings on the material motions may be summarized as follows: judgment in favor of Henrici and against Coast and Coleman in the amount of $175,000; judgment in favor of Henrici and against the city in the amount of $87,500; judgment in favor of Ogg and against all defendants in the amount of $100,000.

The city paid the Ogg judgment in full and assigned to Coast any judgment or claim for contribution which it had against Henrici. Coast then filed a petition seeking a citation to discover assets of Henrici. Henrici objected, maintaining that the city had no enforceable judgment in contribution against him. The circuit court of Sangamon County denied Coast's petition and dismissed the supplementary proceedings. Coast has appealed from that order. We affirm.

Supreme Court Rule 277 (87 Ill.2d R. 277) provides that a supplementary proceeding, such as a citation to discover assets, the pleading in question in the instant case, "may be commenced at any time with respect to a judgment which is subject to enforcement." Therefore, the root question to be answered in the case at bar is whether Coast, as assignee of any judgment or right formerly held by the city, held a ...


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