Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kankakee County; the Hon.
Patrick M. Burns, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE BARRY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Plaintiff, Velma Johannsen, sued General Foods Corporation, her employer's parent corporation, to recover damages for personal injuries which she alleges resulted from inhaling dust from contaminated dog foods. Plaintiff's complaint was filed in the circuit court of Kankakee County on March 23, 1983. The amended complaint contains four counts sounding in negligence, products liability, breach of implied warranty of merchantability and wilful and wanton misconduct.
On January 31, 1985, plaintiff's attorney served a 10-item "Request For Admission of Fact" on defendant's counsel, William Taube. The facts sought to be admitted follow:
"1) That on March 15, 1981 the Defendant, GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION, was notified by agents of Toll Manufacturing Company that quantities of Defendant's dog food that had been shipped to Toll Manufacturing Company, by the Defendant was [sic] moldy.
2) That the Defendant, GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION did send dog food that was, in fact, moldy when it arrived at the Toll Manufacturing Company from March into April, 1981.
3) That dry dog food product commonly called Gravy Train, which had mold on it was in this moldy condition when it left the control of the Defendant, GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION.
4) That at no time did the Defendant, GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION, ever warn Plaintiff, VELMA JOHANNSEN, that the moldy dog food may cause injury to her health.
5) That at no time did the Defendant, GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION, ever warn any employees or agents of Toll Manufacturing Company that the moldy dog food may cause injury to human health.
6) That in excess of 38,533 pounds of Defendant's dog food, Gravy Train, had to be destroyed due to the mold.
7) The mold which was present on Defendant's GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION, dog food, Gravy Train, contained a fungus called Torulopsis Glabrata.
8) That plaintiff, VELMA JOHANNSEN, was exposed to large quantities of the Defendant, GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION'S moldy dog food in March and April of 1981.
9) As a result of Plaintiff, VELMA JOHANNSEN's exposure to Defendant's GENERAL FOODS CORPORATION's, moldy dog food Plaintiff was infected with the fungus Torulopsis Glabrata.
10) Plaintiff, VELMA JOHANNSEN, infected with Torulossis [sic] Glabrata has caused her severe chronic bronchitis."
The matter was scheduled for a pre-trial conference on February 8, 1985. On that date, counsel for both parties appeared before Judge Patrick Burns. The status of discovery was discussed. Both plaintiff's counsel and the court then reminded attorney Taube that the matters contained in plaintiff's request for admissions would be deemed admitted unless defendant's response were filed within 28 days of service pursuant to Rule 216(c) (87 Ill.2d R. 216(c)). The court further admonished defense counsel that the rule would be applied strictly unless a timely request for an ...