Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Decision Dismissing Case Where It Was Found That There Was No Business Relationship Between the Injured Plaintiff and the Defendant

On March 22, 2013, James McGinley, a delivery driver at the House of Blues in Chicago, was using a freight elevator to deliver heavy boxes of liquor to that location. However, when he was using the elevator, a descending door struck him and injured him.

He filed a lawsuit against Sysco Corp., pleading that upon his information and belief, a Sysco employee had been delivering goods to the same location earlier that day and had left his key in the elevator, which in turn was the cause of the door descending onto McGinley and injuring him.

McGinley alleged that Sysco was negligent and was also negligent as a common carrier. Sysco argued that it neither owned the premises nor controlled the elevator and thus had no duty of reasonable care to McGinley.

McGinley repeatedly sought permission to amend his complaint and was granted permission. However, none of McGinley’s amended complaints satisfied the pleading requirement that Sysco had a duty of care because of the acts or omissions of one of its employees. The trial judge dismissed McGinley’s lawsuit.

On appeal, McGinley argued that an affirmative duty was created on Cysco’s part to protect him. There was no business relationship between Sysco and McGinley and not only was there no connection between the two, but McGinley choose not to allege that a Sysco employee was “aware at any time of plaintiff’s activity in the elevator that would impose any duty of care.”

The appeals panel admitted that the owner of the building owed certain duties to McGinley but denied McGinley’s assertion that Sysco represented a “common carrier” noting that nothing indicated that Sysco used the freight elevator “for a public undertaking,” which could give rise to the claim of common carrier.

Sysco did not owe a duty of care to McGinley. The court held that McGinley “pled no factual allegations that created a duty which flowed from a foreseeable consequence created by Sysco employee’s actions.”

Finally, McGinley argued that Sysco owed him a duty under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, but the appellate court emphasized first that res ipsa loquitur is primarily used “when the direct evidence concerning the cause of injury is primarily within the knowledge and control of the defendant.” In this case, the Sysco employee was not present and did not anticipate the events that took place the day when McGinley was injured.

The appellate court further stated the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur “cannot apply unless a duty of care is owed by the defendant to plaintiff.” Because res ipsa loquitur relies on a duty of care being shown, it cannot be used to prove the existence of a duty of care.

Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of this case finding that Sysco owed McGinley no duty.

McGinley v. Sysco Corp., 2015 IL App (1st) 150436-U.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling construction injury cases, car accident cases, work injury cases, bicycle accident cases and motorcycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Evergreen Park, Elk Grove Village, Melrose Park, Schiller Park, Schaumburg, Naperville, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights, Buffalo Grove and Palatine, Ill.

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