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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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