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06/29/87 the People of the State of v. Chicago Magnet Wire

June 29, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

CHICAGO MAGNET WIRE CORPORATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION

510 N.E.2d 1173, 157 Ill. App. 3d 797, 110 Ill. Dec. 142 1987.IL.912

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Earl E. Strayhorn, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL and BUCKLEY, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE O'CONNOR

This is an appeal from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing various indictments and informations against Chicago Magnet Wire Corporation , and five corporate officials, Anthony Jordan, Kevin Keane, Gerald Colby, Allan Simon, and Frank Asta. The sole issue on appeal is whether State criminal prosecutions based on conditions in the workplace are preempted by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. sec. 651 et seq. (1982)). We affirm.

On June 26, 1985, the grand jury of Cook County voted indictments against CMW and five of its corporate officials, charging each with multiple counts of aggravated battery and reckless conduct pursuant to sections 12-4(a), 12-4(c) and 12-5 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 12-4(a), (c), 12-5) and with violating the conspiracy statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 8-2(a)).

One set of aggravated battery indictments, charging a violation of section 12-4(a) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 12-4(a)), alleged that CMW and the individual defendants, while acting in their official capacity, exposed the named employees to numerous federally regulated substances in the workplace; failed to provide necessary safety instructions and equipment and health monitoring systems in the workplace; provided inadequate ventilation in the workplace and maintained dangerously overheated working conditions while the employees were exposed to the federally regulated substances. It was alleged that as a consequent of these acts, defendants violated their duty to provide a safe workplace for employees and caused great bodily harm to the named employees with the conscious awareness that a substantial probability existed that their acts would cause great bodily harm.

The second set of aggravated battery indictments alleged that CMW and the individual defendants knowingly committed acts which would cause named employees to take by deception and for other than medical purposes federally regulated substances and that such acts harmed the employees in violation of section 12-4(c) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 12-4(c)).

The reckless conduct charges alleged that defendants, in conducting the business of coating wire, grossly deviated from the standard of care which a reasonable employer would exercise in the same situation and thereby violated their duty to provide a safe workplace in violation of section 12-5 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 12-5).

The conspiracy indictment charged both CMW and the individual defendants with conspiring against the named employees with the intent to commit aggravated battery in violation of section 8-2(a) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 8-2(a)).

Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss and on December 13, 1985, the court dismissed all charges against them, finding that OSHA preempted Illinois from applying Illinois criminal law to conduct involving federally regulated occupational safety and health issues within the workplace. The State filed various informations which were dismissed on the same basis and this appeal followed.

The State contends that the indictments should be reinstated as the prosecutions were undertaken in pursuance of the State's police power, which was neither expressly nor impliedly preempted by Congress. The defendants contend that the criminal charges are expressly preempted by OSHA and that the dismissal of the charges should be affirmed.

State laws are preempted when Congress has declared its intent, either explicitly or implicitly, to occupy a certain area of law. (Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp. (1984), 464 U.S. 238, 248, 78 L. Ed. 2d 443, 452, 104 S. Ct. 615, 621; Jones v. Rath Packing Co. (1977), 430 U.S. 519, 525, 51 L. Ed. 2d 604, 614, 97 S. Ct. 1305, 1309.) Where preemptive intent is not expressly stated in the statute, the intent of Congress must be derived from the statutory language, from the comprehensiveness of the regulatory scheme, from the legislative history of the statute, or from the fact that the Federal and State statutes at issue conflict. (See Hillsborough County, Florida v. Automated Medical Laboratories, Inc. (1985), 471 U.S. 707, 85 L. Ed. 2d 714, 105 S. Ct. 2371.) In our view, the comprehensiveness of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, in conjunction with the fact that the States have been ...


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