Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. No. 88-L-39. Honorable David A. Englund, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication July 28, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied October 6, 1994.
Inglis, PECCARELLI, Bowman
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Inglis
PRESIDING JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court:
In this consolidated appeal, plaintiff, Frank Bezan, contests two separate decisions of the circuit court of Boone County to grant summary judgment to each defendant, J.S. Alberici Construction Company, and J.S. Alberici Management Company (Alberici), and Chrysler Motors Corporation (Chrysler). Plaintiff brought this action to recover damages for personal injuries he sustained while working at Chrysler's plant. The two issues presented on appeal are whether the trial court properly found that (1) plaintiff was not entitled to the protection of the Structural Work Act, and (2) defendants were not liable for common-law negligence. We dismiss the appeal as to Alberici (No. 2-93-0248) and affirm the appeal as to Chrysler (No. 2-93-1165).
Plaintiff, a millwright, was hired by Jervis B. Webb (Webb) to install new conveyor lines at the Chrysler assembly plant. The assembly plant was changing the production equipment and assembly tools, or "retooling," to manufacture new automobile models. Chrysler solicited Webb to install an inverted power and free conveyor throughout the plant. Chrysler employed Alberici to oversee the changeover operation, which included the installation of body shop equipment and robotics.
The conveyor rail, which plaintiff was attempting to install at the time of his accident, is a steel beam that is approximately 4 to 5 inches high, 2 inches wide, 18 feet long, and weighs approximately 300 pounds. Such rails are hung from headers which extend from the ceiling, approximately 10 to 11 feet from the floor. Previously, the rails were installed by three millwrights, one on each end of the rail, and one in the middle. The millwrights would carry the rail up ladders or scaffold, clamp it to the headers, and weld it once it was properly aligned.
Webb altered the method of installation just prior to the accident in order to accelerate the process. Rather than lifting individual rails, Webb instructed plaintiff to weld two or three rails together and then elevate them with a fork lift. The rails were placed on top of a tool trunk which was then placed on the forks of the forklift in order to raise the beams to the proper height. As the fork was lifted, the rails apparently shifted and pinned plaintiff against a column in the plant, causing his injuries.
Plaintiff sued Alberici and Chrysler for violation of the Structural Work Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 48, par. 60 (now 740 ILCS 150/1 (West 1992))) (count I) and for negligence (count II). Numerous claims were filed. Chrysler sued Webb as a third-party defendant, and Webb intervened. Subsequently Webb was dismissed as the third-party defendant. Alberici also counterclaimed against Chrysler. Alberici filed a motion for summary judgment, and on January 26, 1993, the trial court sent a memorandum to each party explaining its decision to grant summary judgment on both counts to Alberici. Counsel was advised to prepare a written order based on this decision. Plaintiff filed his appeal on February 25, 1993. The written order was filed on March 10, 1993. Chrysler filed its motion for summary judgment in September 1993. Plaintiff timely appealed from the order granting Chrysler summary judgment on both counts. Pursuant to plaintiff's motion, this court ordered the two appeals consolidated. For the following reasons, we must dismiss the appeal as to Alberici.
An appellate court may only hear appeals from final judgments, unless an exception specified by the supreme court rules applies. ( Hicks v. Weaver (1994), 255 Ill. App. 3d 650, 652, 194 Ill. Dec. 414, 627 N.E.2d 751; (Dec. 22, 1993) Official Reports Advance Sheets No. 26 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994), Ill. 2d R. 301.) Until a written judgment is filed, the proceedings are not finalized. ( In re Marriage of Black (1987), 155 Ill. App. 3d 52, 54, 107 Ill. Dec. 790, 507 N.E.2d 943.) A bare announcement of a final judgment cannot be attacked by motion, cannot be appealed, and cannot be enforced. Black, 155 Ill. App. 3d at 54.
Supreme Court Rule 271 requires that when a court rules on amotion outside the course of a trial, the attorney for the prevailing party must prepare and present to the court an order or judgment to be entered, unless the court directs otherwise. (134 Ill. 2d R. 271.) Supreme Court Rule 272 states that the clerk will make a notation in the record when a written order is presented and that a signed order is final when filed. (134 Ill. 2d R. 272.) Supreme Court Rule 303(a)(1) requires that an appeal must be filed within 30 days after the judgment has become final. ((Dec. 22, 1993) Official Reports Advance Sheets No. 26 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994), Ill. 2d R. 303(a)(1).) The record indicates that an order was prepared and entered as directed. Plaintiff, however, filed the notice of appeal prior to the entry of the order. Plaintiff failed to file the notice of appeal after the circuit court's order became final. An order cannot be appealed before it is entered. Therefore, we must dismiss the appeal as to Alberici.
The threshold question in the appeal regarding Chrysler is whether plaintiff is entitled to the protection of the Structural Work Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 48, par. 60 (now 740 ILCS 150/1 (West 1992))). Such protection would result if two elements necessary for liability under the Act can be attributed to Chrysler. The pertinent sections of the Act provide:
"1. All scaffolds, hoists, cranes, stays, ladders, supports, or other mechanical contrivances, erected or constructed by any person, firm or corporation in this State for the use in the erection, repairing, alteration, removal or painting of any house, building, bridge, viaduct, or other structure, shall be erected and constructed, in a safe, suitable and proper manner * * *.
9. For any injury to person or property, occasioned by any wilful violations of this Act, or wilful failure to comply with any of its provisions, a right of action shall accrue to the party injured * * * by reason of such wilful violation or wilful failure as aforesaid * * *." (Ill. ...