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06/16/89 Margaret Konyar, v. John E. Jonsson

June 16, 1989





(Ingersoll Products Corporation, Third-Party, Defendant)

540 N.E.2d 944, 184 Ill. App. 3d 865, 133 Ill. Dec. 78 1989.IL.907

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas E. Hoffman, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE QUINLAN delivered the opinion of the court. LaPORTA and McNAMARA, JJ., concur.


Plaintiff, Margaret Konyar, sued the defendant in the circuit court of Cook County, alleging that the defendant, John E. Jonsson, individually and doing business as Jonsson Construction Company, was negligent and that she was injured as a result of that negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff has now appealed the circuit court's order to this court. We affirm.

The defendant, John Jonsson, the owner of the Jonsson Construction Company, had been hired by Ingersoll Products Corporation (Ingersoll) to do some remodeling work at the Ingersoll plant. As part of the remodeling, the defendant was to enlarge Ingersoll's computer room, move some partitions, and put up some paneling. The defendant also constructed a false floor or platform in the computer room so that the floor in an area added to the computer room would match the existing floor in the computer room when a partition was removed. The platform was approximately eight to nine inches high and had a trough or "race" approximately six inches wide and eight to nine inches deep along the perimeter of the platform. This opening was for electrical wires and cables.

Construction on the platform began in late December 1981. All Ingersoll employees were given a Christmas holiday from December 22 until January 4. When the employees returned from Christmas vacation, the platform was completed except for some tiling, which the defendant could not finish until the electricians had completed their work. In the meantime, the defendant had begun work on another part of the plant.

When plaintiff, who worked as a keypunch operator for Ingersoll, returned to work on January 4, 1982, her normal working area was under construction, so her supervisors decided to move the keypunch operators up to the platform. Accordingly, plaintiff, Therlina McDavid and Pamela Jankowski, Ingersoll's keypunch operators, were all moved onto the platform. Thereafter, on January 11, 1982, plaintiff caught her heel in the race as she was stepping off the platform and fell. Plaintiff sustained a broken right hip as a result of this fall.

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant on November 8, 1983, alleging that the defendant had a duty to exercise ordinary care in the remodeling of the Ingersoll plant and that he was negligent in the exercise of this duty and, that as a direct and proximate result of the negligence, plaintiff was injured. Specifically, plaintiff asserted that the defendant negligently failed to barricade the race around the platform, negligently failed to cover the race, and negligently failed to warn the Ingersoll employees about the race. In defendant's answer to plaintiff's complaint, the defendant denied plaintiff's allegations and contended that plaintiff was contributorily negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout. The defendant also filed a third- party complaint against Ingersoll, the owner of the premises and the plaintiff's employer.

Subsequently, plaintiff, defendant and various employees of both Ingersoll and the Jonsson Construction Company gave depositions in connection with the lawsuit. Plaintiff, in her deposition, said that the supervisors at Ingersoll moved the keypunch machines and the keypunch operators up to the platform on January 4, 1982. She said that from January 4 until January 11, in order to get on and off the platform, she and the others were required to step over the race. On January 11 alone, plaintiff testified that she got on and off the platform between 10 and 20 times before her accident. Plaintiff stated that she never saw any coverings or barricades around the race, nor did she see any warnings posted. She admitted, however, that she never complained to anyone about the race. Plaintiff also said that she had seen the defendant and his employees working in another part of the plant on the day of her accident.

Therlina McDavid, another keypunch operator, also gave a deposition. McDavid said that the keypunch operators themselves asked to be moved from their normal work area when they returned to work on January 4, 1982, because the normal work area was under construction. Consequently, she stated, she stated, the Ingersoll supervisors moved the keypunch operators onto the platform. At the time the keypunch operators were moved onto the platform, McDavid said no one was working on it. Further, McDavid stated that from the time she returned to work until the time of plaintiff's accident, she never saw the defendant or his employees working on the platform. McDavid estimated that the keypunch operators got on and off the platform at least 10 times a day. Additionally, McDavid said that although the race around the platform was not covered before the plaintiff's accident, after plaintiff's accident, the defendant cut boards to cover the race. However, McDavid stated she did not know whether someone from Ingersoll told the defendant to cover the race.

Joseph Moore, Ingersoll's data processing manager, stated in his deposition that the defendant had finished with the platform when the Ingersoll employees returned to work on January 4, 1982, and that the defendant did not resume work on the platform until approximately three to four weeks after plaintiff's accident, when the electricians had finished their work on the platform. Moore said he believed that the blueprints for the platform were drawn up by Walter Koopman, Moore's supervisor. Koopman, he stated, was the one who told Moore to move the keypunch operators onto the platform. Moore acknowledged that the keypunch operators complained to him about the danger of working ...

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