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Electric cooperative owed no duty to injured contractor

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An independent contractor injured at a generating station owned by Bloomington-based Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative was unable to prove to the Indiana Court of Appeals that the electric cooperative was negligent regarding his injury.

Harold Haggerty worked for C&K Industrial Services, which contracted with Hoosier Energy to provide vacuuming and other services at a generating station in Sullivan County. While Haggerty and a co-worker were vacuuming dust from the station on Nov. 1, 2008, the co-worker lost control of his end of the hose, which hit Haggerty in face, causing pain and bleeding. Hoosier Energy didn’t own or control any of the equipment used by the men that evening.

Haggerty sued Hoosier Energy for negligence; the Sullivan Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of the cooperative.

The general rule in Indiana is that a principal isn’t liable for the negligence of an independent contractor, but five exceptions to this rule are recognized. Haggerty alleged that four applied: where the contract requires the performance of intrinsically dangerous work; where the principal is by law or contract charged with performing the specific duty; where the act will create a nuisance; and where the act to be performed will probably cause injury to others unless due precaution is taken.

But there isn’t anything inherently dangerous about vacuuming dust and the work being performed that evening would not be considered a nuisance, Judge Rudy Pyle III wrote in Harold Haggerty v. Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Merom Generating Station, 77A01-1206-CT-293.

Hoosier Energy couldn’t have reasonably foreseen or prevented the accident and the contract Hoosier Energy had with C&K did not show that the energy cooperative had control of Haggerty and his co-worker and were responsible for Haggerty’s safety.

“Because Hoosier Energy successfully negated the element of duty in Haggerty’s negligence claim, we find the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Hoosier Energy,” he wrote.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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