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Justices rule on construction manager's duty for jobsite safety

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The Indiana Supreme Court has held that a construction manager on the Lucas Oil Stadium construction project didn’t have a legal duty to ensure jobsite safety to a subcontractor’s employee either by contract or individual actions, and as a result, cannot be held liable for workplace negligence.

In Hunt Construction Group, Inc., and Mezzetta Construction, Inc. v. Shannon D. Garrett, No. 49S02-1106-CT-365, the justices voted 4-1 to reverse a ruling by Marion Superior Judge David Shaheed that was in favor of Shannon Garrett.

Garrett was working for a concrete company when a coworker dropped a piece of wood that struck her and injured her head and left hand. Shaheed found that the construction manager, Hunt Construction Group, could be held vicariously liable for the actions of her employer, Baker Concrete, because Hunt was in charge of the jobsite. The Court of Appeals held that Hunt was not vicariously liable to Garrett for any negligence on her employer’s part because the two didn’t have the required relationship.

The Supreme Court’s majority relied on Plan-Tec, Inc. v. Wiggins, 443 N.E.2d 1212 (Ind. Ct. App. 1983), as a durable template for resolving these workplace safety issues. Justice Frank Sullivan wrote that for a construction manager to not otherwise be obligated by contract to provide jobsite safety but to be legally bound to provide that care and safety goes beyond what a contract dictates. In this case, Hunt did not undertake any such responsibilities for the project that Garrett was working and can’t be held liable in that way.

Sullivan also wrote that Hunt didn’t assume by its actions on the site any legal duty for that workplace safety, unlike in Plan-Tec, where the construction manager did take on additional jobsite responsibilities beyond the contract.

Justice Brent Dickson dissented, believing that material issues of fact exist about the construction manager’s duty of care and summary judgment is precluded for both parties.

The case is remanded for proceedings consistent with the opinion.

 

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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