Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co., Gen. No. 10678

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtCRAVEN
Citation222 N.E.2d 584,78 Ill.App.2d 153
PartiesTahiko LAUKKANEN, Bank of Illinois in Champaign as Conservator of the Estate of Tahiko Laukkanen, Incompetent, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JEWEL TEA CO., Inc., a Corporation, C. E. Mulliken, Charles N. Debes, Bel-Vue Homes, Inc., a Corporation, Piggly Wiggly Midwest Co., Inc., John M. Giolitto and Harry N. Cordes, Defendants. Appeal of Charles N. DEBES and Harry N. Cordes, Defendants.
Decision Date29 December 1966
Docket NumberGen. No. 10678

Page 584

222 N.E.2d 584
78 Ill.App.2d 153
Tahiko LAUKKANEN, Bank of Illinois in Champaign as
Conservator of the Estate of Tahiko Laukkanen,
Incompetent, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JEWEL TEA CO., Inc., a Corporation, C. E. Mulliken, Charles
N. Debes, Bel-Vue Homes, Inc., a Corporation,
Piggly Wiggly Midwest Co., Inc., John M.
Giolitto and Harry N. Cordes,
Defendants.
Appeal of Charles N. DEBES and Harry N. Cordes, Defendants.
Gen. No. 10678.
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District.
Dec. 29, 1966.

[78 Ill.App.2d 155]

Page 585

T. G. Knappenberger, Jr., Champaign, Yates, Fisk, Haider & Burke, Chicago, Stanley J. Roszkowski, Rockford, (Tom L. Yates, Chicago, of counsel), for appellants.

Wheat, Hatch, Corazza & Baker, Champaign, Harold A. Baker, Champaign, of counsel), for appellee.

Page 586

CRAVEN, Presiding Justice.

This appeal arises from the denial of defendants' post-trial motion. Plaintiff received a verdict of $250,000 for personal injuries sustained on April 30, 1962. The plaintiff[78 Ill.App.2d 156] was rendered a paraplegic when a pylon 1 which was part of a building designed by the defendants, toppled and struck her as she attempted to enter the building in a severe thunderstorm accompanied by hail and high winds. Judgment against the defendants in the amount of $205,000 was entered below after credit of $45,000 was allowed because of payment received by plaintiff from others in exchange for covenants not to sue. The post-trial motion requested judgment n.o.v. upon the theory that there was no liability as a matter of law on the part of these defendants to the plaintiff and, in the alternative, a new trial on grounds that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdict, and that there were prejudicial errors in the admission and rejection of the evidence and in instructions given to the jury. There is no issue concerning the amount of the award.

The defendants are licensed mechanical and professional engineers in the State of Illinois. At the time the plans and specifications were drawn defendant Cordes was an employee of defendant Debes.

The complaint alleges that during the year 1958 the defendants prepared architectural drawings and specifications for the construction of a building which they knew was for public use as a retail grocery store, and that subsequent to the furnishing of the design and specification, the building was constructed in Rantoul, Illinois, in substantial conformity with the defendants' plans.

A hollow concrete block pylon with brick facing was designed by the defendants as a part of the south eighteen feet of the west wall of the building. The west end of the adjacent south wall contained the customers entrance [78 Ill.App.2d 157] and exit doors. This pylon extended thirty-eight feet into the air from the ground level. The top of it was approximately twenty-one feet higher than the parapet of the perimeter walls. The facing of the building also made up the facing of the pylon to the height of the remainder of the walls; from then up the facing was brick. The outer dimensions of the pylon were three feet four inches by eighteen feet.

The complaint further alleges that the defendants knew that the concrete block pylon they designed would be located directly above the entrance to the grocery store and that any defects in the structure would not be capable of discovery by the public. It charges that the defendants failed to exercise the care exercised by a reasonably well qualified engineer designing a similar building, in that the defendants failed to design a pylon that was structurally strong and the defendants knew or should have known that (a) the pylon as designed was not structurally sound; (b) the pylon was incapable of withstanding the windload force reasonably to be expected at the building site; (c) the pylon was of an aerodynamic shape which rendered it eminently dangerous and incapable of withstanding the windload force reasonably to be expected at the building site.

The complaint further alleged that on April 30, 1962, at about 1:30 p.m., Tahiko Laukkanen was entering the store when the pylon collapsed or tumbled over and fell upon her as a direct and proximate result of one of the negligent acts of the defendants.

The defendants' answer denied the allegations of negligence and proximate cause, and affirmatively alleged that the cause of the pylon collapse was an act of God for which the defendants were not responsible; further that the plaintiff's cause

Page 587

of action was barred by the statute of limitations (Ill.Rev.Stat.1963, ch. 83, sec. 24f); and further that the defendants' only duty in the premises[78 Ill.App.2d 158] was to prepare the plans and specifications or check them for structural adequacy, and they did not supervise the construction of the store designed by them.

At the trial of the case, plaintiff's evidence included photographs taken of the building following the damage of April 30, 1962, weather records for the day in question and wind records for many years prior to the occurrence, the plans and specifications furnished by the defendants for the building, and a copy of the 1955 National Building Code, which was in effect at the time the building was designed.

The contractor who constructed the building and the pylon in question testified that the pylon was erected in the manner and with the materials called for by the plans and specifications furnished by the defendants, with the exception that limestone facing was provided for the lower portion of the exterior wall of the pylon and the limestone was bonded to the concrete block interior walls of the pylon in an approved manner but not according to the scheme of the defendants. There is no evidence tending to prove that these variations in actual construction from the defendants' plans reduced the strength of the pylon below the strength which the defendants believed they had built into the pylon. An expert witness testified to his opinion that the pylon, as built, would not withstand winds in excess of 75 mph because of the use of the light-weight concrete block. He stated that defendants' plans specified such a block. The contractor confirmed his use of light-weight concrete block in the pylon construction and that the light-weight block was what was called for by the plans and specifications as he understood them. An employee of another local contracting firm testified, on rebuttal, that light-weight concrete block was called for by the defendants' plans and specifications.

The weather records for April 30, 1962, showed that at 1:27 p.m. local time, the wind was recorded at 76 knots [78 Ill.App.2d 159] (87.4 mph) at Chanute Air Force Base, a few miles distant from the building in question. The photographs show...

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19 practice notes
  • Zapata v. Burns, s. 13014
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 17, 1988
    ...their liability beyond the date of completion of an improvement to all foreseeable users. See, e.g., Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co., Inc., 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 222 N.E.2d 584 (1966)." R.A. Civitello Co. v. New Haven, 6 Conn.App. 212, 225, 504 A.2d 542 The plaintiffs, upon whom rests the burden of......
  • Dubin v. Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, s. 78-81
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 17, 1979
    ...not extended the doctrine of strict liability to include pure services. (See E. g., Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co., Inc. (4th Dist.1966), 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 162, 222 N.E.2d 584 (designing engineer drawing plans and specifications for the construction of a building); Eiler v. Kenneth Jamison & S......
  • R.A. Civitello Co. v. City of New Haven, 3310
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • February 11, 1986
    ...their liability beyond the date of completion of an improvement to all foreseeable users. See, e.g., Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co., Inc., 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 222 N.E.2d 584 The American Institute of Architects, the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Associated General Contractor......
  • Johnson v. Equipment Specialists, Inc., 13948
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 10, 1978
    ...139 N.E.2d 275, 282.) The rule is as applicable to one who designs as it is to one who constructs. (Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co. (1966), 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 222 N.E.2d 584.) The rule is not clear on its face and has been said to have been swallowed by its exceptions. In the instant case we wou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • R.A. Civitello Co. v. City of New Haven, No. 3310
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • February 11, 1986
    ...their liability beyond the date of completion of an improvement to all foreseeable users. See, e.g., Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co., Inc., 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 222 N.E.2d 584 The American Institute of Architects, the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Associated General Contractor......
  • Horton v. Goldminer's Daughter, No. 870031
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • September 29, 1989
    ...Other courts followed. See, e.g., Montijo v. Swift, 219 Cal.App.2d 351, 33 Cal.Rptr. 133, 134-35 (1963); Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co., 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 161-63, 222 N.E.2d 584, 588-89 In response to these and subsequent cases abolishing the privity requirement for architects, engineers, and ......
  • Dubin v. Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Nos. 78-81
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • July 17, 1979
    ...not extended the doctrine of strict liability to include pure services. (See E. g., Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co., Inc. (4th Dist.1966), 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 162, 222 N.E.2d 584 (designing engineer drawing plans and specifications for the construction of a building); Eiler v. Kenneth Jamison & S......
  • Johnson v. Equipment Specialists, Inc., No. 13948
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • March 10, 1978
    ...139 N.E.2d 275, 282.) The rule is as applicable to one who designs as it is to one who constructs. (Laukkanen v. Jewel Tea Co. (1966), 78 Ill.App.2d 153, 222 N.E.2d 584.) The rule is not clear on its face and has been said to have been swallowed by its exceptions. In the instant case we wou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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