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09/11/97 LARRY D. ATKINS v. DEERE & COMPANY ET AL.

September 11, 1997

LARRY D. ATKINS, APPELLEE,
v.
DEERE & COMPANY ET AL., APPELLANTS. THOMAS E. KIENITZ, APPELLANT, V. BRADLEY & BRADLEY, INC., ET AL., APPELLEES.



The Honorable Justice McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Heiple took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Justice Miller, specially concurring.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcmorrow

The Honorable Justice McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court:

We granted leave to appeal in this consolidated case in order to determine whether the repeal of the Illinois Structural Work Act (740 ILCS 150/0.01 et seq. (West 1994)) operates as a bar to all causes of actions which accrued prior to the effective date of the repeal. 134 Ill. 2d R. 302(b). For the reasons that follow, we conclude that all such causes of actions are preserved.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs, Larry D. Atkins and Thomas E. Kienitz, each filed a lawsuit pursuant to the Structural Work Act to recover damages for injuries they received while working on separate construction sites. During the pendency of these actions, the Illinois General Assembly repealed the Structural Work Act, effective February 14, 1995. The repealing statute, Public Act 89-2, provides in toto : "PUBLIC ACT 89-0002 (House Bill No. 201)

AN ACT to repeal the Structural Work Act.

WHEREAS, It is the intent of the General Assembly that the repeal of the Structural Work Act shall operate as a bar to any action accruing on or after the effective date of this Public Act; and

WHEREAS, It is the intent of the General Assembly that any action accruing under the Structural Work Act before the effective date of this Public Act may bemaintained in accordance with the provisions of that Act as it existed before its repeal by this Public Act; therefore

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly:

(740 ILCS 150/Act rep.)

Section 5. The Structural Work Act is repealed.

Section 99. This Act takes effect upon becoming law.

Passed in the General Assembly February 9, 1995.

Approved February 14, 1995.

Effective February 14, 1995." Pub. Act 89-2, eff. February 14, 1995 (rep. 740 ILCS 150/0.01 et seq. (West 1994)).

Shortly thereafter, defendants in both of the instant actions moved for dismissal of plaintiffs' complaints based upon the above quoted repealer. Defendants argued that although the legislature expressed an intention to apply the repealing act prospectively, that intention appeared in the introductory paragraphs preceding the words "Be it enacted *** ." According to defendants, those paragraphs merely constituted a preamble and, as such, could not be considered a part of the act itself. Defendants further submitted that the paragraphs following the enacting clause, i.e., "The Structural Work Act is repealed" and "This Act takes effect upon becoming law," constituted the only operative portions of the statute. Defendants concluded, therefore, that because the legislature repealed the Structural ...


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