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Carpenter can sue contractor who left unguarded holes in concrete at worksite

Michael Sanderson was badly hurt when his scaffolding collapsed after one leg of the scaffolding fell into a hole in the concrete floor of his job site.  Skyline Concrete Floors, a sub of Cahill Construction, had paved the floor, preserving numerous holes intended to be utilized as drains.  The Defendant had covered these holes with plywood, which Sanderson claimed was an inadequate protection for workers in the common area who would be working on scaffolding.  The trial court dismissed  Sanderson's claim, holding that Skyline owed no duty to Sanderson and other workers on the site.

On appeal, the majority of the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Sanderson had created a question of fact with regard to whether or not Skyline owed an independent common law duty to the workers on the site.  The majority noted that simply because Skyline's contract with the general contractor incorporated OSHA and MiOSHA standards that would have prevented the fall, that did not excuse Skyline from also complying with its common law duty of reasonable care to workers who would follow it on the site.  Judges Cynthia Stephens and Elizabeth Gleicher pointed out that  it was a curious suggestion to maintain that incorporating safety statutes and regulations into a contract would have the effect of rendering the contracting parties immune from violating those provisions.  Judge Kirsten Kelly, ever the insurers' best friend, would have upheld dismissal of the claim.  She maintained that simply putting the provisions in Skyline's contract relieved it of any duty to the public.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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