Thursday, October 9, 2014

Duties Owed in Construction Accident Case Reaffirmed

In its recent decision in the case of Nertavich v. PPL Electric Utilities, 2014 Pa. Super. 184 (Pa. Super. Aug. 27, 2014 Ford Elliott, P.J.E., Ott, J., Strassburger, J.)(Op. by Ott, J.) (Strassburger, J., dissenting), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the duties owed in a case involving an injury to an employee of an independent contractor.    

The court more specifically ruled that the electric company Defendant was entitled to a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in a case arising out of injuries to an employee of an independent contractor hired to paint electric transition pole. 
The court found that there was an insufficient degree of control for liability purposes even though there was a designation of a contract field representative by the defendant to be responsible for monitoring safety practices, and even though internal company documents setting forth safety guidelines for employees were produced.
Such evidence was found to be insufficient to establish that the Defendant electric company retained control of job sites as an owner such that liability could be imposed for injuries to employees of the independent contractor.  
In so ruling, the Nertavich court relied heavily upon the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision in the case of Beil v. Telesis Construction, Inc., 11 A.3d 456 (Pa. 2011) which was summarized in this TORT TALK POST
The Majority Opinion by Judge Ott can be viewed HERE.
Judge Strassburger's dissenting Opinion (a simple two-line affirmation of the trial court opinion) can be viewed HERE.


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