KEMNER v. MONSANTO CO.
576 N.E.2d 1146 (1991)
217 Ill. App.3d 188
160 Ill.Dec. 192
Frances E. KEMNER et al., and all other cases consolidated with Cause No. 80-L-970, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
MONSANTO COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant (Bruce D. Ryder, Appellant, and St. Clair County, Illinois, Appellee).
Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District.
July 22, 1991.
Coburn, Croft & Putzell, Kenneth R. Heineman, Bruce D. Ryder, Dudley W. Von Holt, St. Louis, Mo., James C. Craven, P.C., Springfield, Coffield, Ungaretti, Harris & Slavin, J. Timothy Eaton, Chicago, for Monsanto Co. and Bruce D. Ryder.
John Baricevic, State's Atty., St. Clair Co., Belleville, for St. Clair Co.
Rex Carr, Carr, Korein, Tillery, Kunin, Montroy, Glass & Bogard, East St. Louis, Jerome W. Seigfried, Seigfreid, Runge, Leonatti & Pohlmeyer, Mexico, Mo., for plaintiffs-appellees, Frances E. Kemner, et al., and all other cases consolidated with Cause No. 80-L-970.
Justice LEWIS delivered the opinion of the court:
This case involves an appeal by Monsanto Company from an adverse verdict in favor of 65 plaintiffs in the circuit court of St. Clair County.
An action was brought in the circuit court of St. Clair County, Illinois, by 65 plaintiffs against five defendants: Monsanto Company ("Monsanto"), Norfolk & Western Railway Company ("Norfolk"), G.A.T.X. Corporation ("GATX"), General American Transportation Corporation ("General American"), and Dresser Industries, Inc. ("Dresser"). Plaintiffs' 20 original complaints were consolidated for trial. Prior to trial, certain third-party claims against third-party defendant Willamette-Western Corporation were severed from the case. Certain counterclaims against Monsanto and Norfolk were also severed. These third-party claims and counterclaims remain pending in the circuit court. Prior to verdict, all defendants other than Monsanto settled with the plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs' consolidated cases were tried against defendant Monsanto only. Plaintiffs' second amended complaints, which were filed after the close of evidence, were in two counts, alleging in count I a strict liability theory and in count II a wilful and wanton conduct theory. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Monsanto on count I, pertaining to the claim that the product was unreasonably dangerous, and in favor of plaintiffs on count II, awarding no damages for any noneconomic losses, $1 to each of 63 plaintiffs for economic losses, $14,500 each to the other two plaintiffs for property damages losses, and $16,250,000 in a joint punitive damage verdict.
A judgment was entered on the verdicts on October 22, 1987. On November 10, 1987, the court entered a judgment against Monsanto in favor of St. Clair County for extraordinary costs in the amount of $84,294.26. Also at the close of the evidence, but before the jury was instructed, the court fined Monsanto and its counsel Bruce D. Ryder $10,000 and $1,000 respectively, pursuant to section 2-611 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 110, par. 2-611.
Monsanto filed a post-trial motion raising issues pertaining to the October 22, 1987, verdicts on count II, the November 10, 1987, judgment on extraordinary costs and the court's August 27, 1987, order on sanctions. Plaintiffs filed a post-trial motion requesting relief only as to the October 22, 1987, nonpunitive damage verdicts on count II. Both post-trial motions were denied. A finding that there was no just reason for delaying enforcement or appeal was made pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (134 Ill.2d R. 304(a)), in view of the remaining severed counterclaims and third-party claims. Monsanto appeals from the judgment on the verdicts on count II, the judgment on extraordinary costs, and the order on sanctions.
This case arose out of a train derailment and subsequent chemical spill that occurred at Sturgeon, Missouri, on January 10, 1979. The evidence revealed that the defendant sent from its plant in Sauget, Illinois, a shipment by tank car of OCP-crude which contained small quantities of a dioxin called 2, 3, 7, 8, TCDD. The dioxin was formed as a part of the manufacturing process. The train derailed, and a gash on the bottom of the tank car caused some 19,000 gallons of OCP-crude to spill onto the tracks where the train came to rest. There seems to be no question that there was some quantity of dioxin in the OCP-crude and that Monsanto either knew or should have known of this fact. It was also revealed in the evidence that it was some days later before the clean-up crews were notified of the possibility of dioxin in the spill.