Monday, October 4, 2021

Proper Standard of Liability for Construction Contractors Reviewed for Work Completed

In the case of Brown v. City of Oil City, No. 337 C.D. 2020 (Pa. Cmwlth. Sept. 1, 2021) (Op. by Leavitt, J.), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court found that a trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of a contractor and a subcontractor in a fatal slip and fall action. The appellate court found that the trial court failed to apply the proper standard of liability for contractors who, on behalf of the possessor of land, allegedly created a condition that caused harm after the work had been accepted by the possessor of land.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff’s decedent slipped and fell on library steps and died from her injuries. The Plaintiff sued the City and a library association alleging poor construction or maintenance of the steps. The Complaint was later amended to name the contractor, architectural firm and subcontractor involved in the construction of the steps.

The appellate court reviewed §385 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts along with Pennsylvania law construing that Restatement language. That Restatement governs the extent to which a contractor may be liable for work completed on behalf of a possessor of land when someone is hurt by the work completed after the work has been accepted by the possessor of land. The Commonwealth Court found that the law extends a contractor’s liability to third persons who are injured by an artificial condition of the land created by the contractor after the possessor of land has accepted the completed work.

The appellate court reversed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the contractor Defendant and held that it was for a jury to decide whether the condition of the library steps was of a dangerous character and caused the decedent’s physical injury and death.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Sept. 21, 2021).

Source of image:  Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash.

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