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Contractor who moved and erected scaffold cannot sue owner

Wayne Lockard was an independent contractor using a scaffold to maintain ceiling lights in Defendant Siegfried's building, when the scaffold collapsed and he was badly hurt.  The scaffold collapsed because one of the spring-loaded holding pins in a scaffolding leg was not anchored in the corresponding hole, apparently.  The owner of the building had rented the scaffolding for Lockard and others to use in refurbishing and maintaining Siegfried's property.  Lockard believed that the owner should be liable for the injury because it was his duty to provide a safe scaffolding for Lockard to use.

The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Lockard's claim, finding that he was more familiar with the scaffold than Siegfried was, and had used it more often than had the owner.   Therefore, he was in a superior position to evaluate it for safety purposes, particularly since the evidence suggested that he was the last person to move and re-set the spring-loaded pins.

The court also noted that since only two contractors used the scaffolding, the "common work area doctrine" did not apply to make the owner responsible for the safety of the scaffolding.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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