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02/10/88 Paul J. Duffield, v. Marra

February 10, 1988





520 N.E.2d 938, 166 Ill. App. 3d 754, 117 Ill. Dec. 587 1988.IL.163

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. Joseph Cunningham, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court. WELCH and LEWIS, JJ., concur.


Defendant St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company (the Railroad) appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of St. Clair County which awarded plaintiff, Paul J. Duffield, damages of $35,000, plus costs, on a claim brought against it by Duffield pursuant to the Federal Employers' Liability Act (the FELA or Act) (45 U.S.C.A. § 51 et seq. (West 1986)). Four issues are presented for our review: (1) whether the circuit court erred in denying the Railroad's motions for a directed verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict; (2) whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that Duffield was only 50% contributorily negligent; (3) whether the circuit court erred in dismissing count V of the Railroad's counterclaim against defendant Marra, Inc., d/b/a Ramada Inn (the Ramada Inn), for contractual indemnity and in denying its motion to reinstate that count prior to trial; and (4) whether the circuit court erred in finding that a settlement agreement between Duffield and the Ramada Inn was in good faith within the meaning of the Contribution Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 70, par. 301 et seq.). For the reasons which follow, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

The record established that Duffield was employed by the Railroad as a locomotive engineer. At the time of the events giving rise to this litigation, he was 56 years old and resided in Scott City, Missouri, which is near the Railroad's Illmo terminal.

On the morning of February 4, 1979, the Railroad called Duffield at his home and told him that he was being sent to the Railroad's East St. Louis, Illinois, terminal, where he would be assigned to a train. Transporting Railroad employees from one terminal to another for work assignments in this way is known as "deadheading" and is used by the Railroad to adjust crew availability to train traffic, which is occasionally heavier at some points along the line than others.

Duffield reported to the Illmo terminal, and at 9 a.m. he was driven in a taxi provided by the Railroad from there to the East St. Louis terminal. For this trip, which was 139 miles long, he was paid approximately 1 1/3 days' wages. Duffield arrived in East St. Louis at 11:30 a.m. Once there, he reported to the yard office, registered with the clerk, filled out his time slip and advised that he was available for duty. The Railroad did not need him immediately, however, and he was sent to rest.

According to the evidence, train crew members who are not needed upon arrival at a terminal after being "deadheaded" there are taken to lodgings to rest for four- or eight-hour periods. During this rest period, crew members are on call and can be recalled to work if they are given notice 1 1/2 hours before the rest period ends. They are not paid for the rest period unless they are called back before four hours have elapsed or unless more than 16 hours pass without their being recalled. Nevertheless, they remain subject to the Railroad's disciplinary rules and operating procedures. This means, for example, that they must act in a presentable manner and abstain from consuming alcohol.

The lodgings provided by the Railroad for crews "deadheaded" into the East St. Louis terminal were located at the Ramada Inn in Belleville, Illinois. Rooms were furnished there for the use of the crews pursuant to a written agreement between the Ramada Inn and the Railroad. These rooms were paid for by the Railroad, not individual crew members. Crew members were transported from the Railroad's terminal to the Ramada Inn in a van provided by the motel. Upon arrival, they would simply identify themselves as being with the Railroad and receive their room assignments.

The Railroad apparently sometimes had supervisory personnel at the Ramada Inn to watch over Railroad employees, although this was not the case at the time relevant to this dispute. Railroad workers were free to leave their rooms and the motel itself during rest periods, but if they did so they were required to notify the front desk as to their whereabouts so that they could be reached in the event that they were needed by the Railroad.

Upon being notified that he would not be needed immediately on the morning of February 4, Duffield signed out on the Railroad's call register. That register indicated that Duffield was off duty and would be rested to return to work at 7:30 p.m., eight hours after his arrival. Duffield was then taken by the Ramada Inn's van from the terminal to the motel.

After checking in at the motel, Duffield went to his room, cleaned up, and returned to the lobby, where he met Wayne Gross and John Killian, two other railroad employees. The trio decided to go out to eat at a restaurant known as Bohannon's, located several blocks from the motel. They could not eat at the motel's coffee shop, because it had closed at 11 a.m. Although another restaurant, Augustine's, was adjacent to the motel and was open, Duffield testified that he ...

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