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Contractor owed no duty to worker injured during construction of Carmel arts center

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Summary judgment for a contractor on the Carmel Regional Performing Arts Center construction was appropriate, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, rejecting an injured worker’s argument that a duty was owed to him based on federal workplace safety regulations.

Nathan Ferguson worked for General Piping Inc. when he walked across a temporary wooden walkway on the project site. It broke, causing him to injure his knee. Ferguson and his wife, Deanna, sued contractor Poynter Sheet Metal and 14 other defendants for damages and loss of consortium. The trial court granted summary judgment for Poynter on the issue of whether the company owed Ferguson any duty to refrain from creating or permitting a hazardous condition at the project site.

On appeal, the Fergusons contended that Poynter, as a contractor at the worksite, had a duty to abide by Occupational Safety & Health Administration regulations. The Fergusons claim that Poynter’s duty arose from the contract between Poynter and the Carmel Redevelopment Commission because OSHA requirements are federal regulations.

“The trial correctly found that Poynter did not have a duty of care arising by contract to Nathan. Poynter’s contract specifically provided that Poynter was responsible for ‘all safety precautions and programs in connection with the Work and shall take all necessary precautions for the safety of, and provide the necessary protection to prevent damage, injury or loss to (i) all employees on the Work and other persons and organizations who may be affected thereby,’” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote in Nathan and Deanna Ferguson v. Shiel Sexton Company, Inc., WR Dunkin & Son, Inc., Lynch, Harrison & Brumleve, Inc., et al., 29A05-1301-CT-8. “Of note is the use of the word ‘Work’ instead of ‘Project.’”

But the Fergusons claimed that Poynter had a contractual duty to comply with OSHA’s Multi-Employer Citation Policy, CPL 02-00-124. But their argument failed because Poynter was not a creating, exposing, correcting, or controlling employer under the policy. The Fergusons could not establish the trial court erred by granting summary judgment on the issue of duty of care.
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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