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Hilliard v. Lummus Co.

decided: December 3, 1987.

THEDWARD HILLIARD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LUMMUS COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 85 C 7076 -- Paul E. Plunkett, Judge.

Coffey, Ripple and Manion, Circuit Judges.

Author: Coffey

COFFEY, Circuit Judge.

The plaintiff, Thedward Hilliard, brought this action against the defendant, Lummus Company, Inc. ("Lummus"), in the Circuit Court of Cook County, seeking damages for an injury sustained in an industrial accident. Lummus then removed the suit to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, pursuant to the court's diversity jurisdiction. The dispute before the court requires us to interpret section 13-214(b) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure -- the statute of limitations applicable to lawsuits brought against persons who have designed, planned, supervised, observed, or managed the construction of improvements to real property. See Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 110, ยง 13-214(b) (1984). The district judge granted summary judgment in favor of Lummus, holding that Hilliard's suit was time-barred under section 13-214(b). The court held that the Lummus Co. had improved real property and was thus protected by the statute of limitations. Hilliard v. U.S. Electrical Motors, No. 85 C 7076, slip op. (N.D. Ill., Aug. 25, 1986). Hilliard appeals. We affirm.

FACTS

In 1965, World's Finest Chocolates ("WFC") entered into a contract with Lummus to modernize the WFC cocoa-processing plant to prevent bacterial problems WFC had experienced with its existing equipment. The contract between WFC and Lummus required LUmmus to provide "engineering and technical services . . . in connection with a program of modifications to [WFC's] plant." Specifically, the contract directed that:

LUMMUS shall in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement perform or provide the following:

2.1 Engineering services including process, development, mechanical and structural design.

2.2 Drafting including layout and installation drawings.

2.3 Preparation of specifications and/or requisitions for subcontract and equipment.

2.4 Review all quotations received by OWNER and recommend supplier.

2.5 Check all vendors drawings and approve same for fabrication.

2.6 Prepare estimates of work to be performed as ...


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