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Employee of subcontractor cannot sue general when wall collapses

The Plaintiff in a recent unpublished case sued Viva Homes after he was injured in a wall collapse.  He was working as a brick layer on one of two homes being constructed simultaneously by Viva, and had been asked by the foremen of two subs (his own and the carpenters') to assist in bracing the wall.  The Court of Appeals dismissed his claim, holding that he was not injured in a "common work area" because the risk of erecting the wall did not endanger a "significant" number of workers, and therefore did not implicate the general contractor. 

Oddly, the court also held that the inherently dangerous activity rule--which would have provided a separate theory of recovery--did not apply to protect persons actually engaged in dangerous activities.  This seems like a mis-reading of existing Michigan law, although the underlying theory has been significantly eroded over the past two decades.  While the inherently dangerous activity rule unquestionably applied to men working on towers and telephone poles, for example in Dowell v. General Telephone in the 1970s, its application has been greatly limited by tort "reforming" judicial activists.

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