General contractor not responsible for wall collapse that caused serious injury
Brian Crumley, a carpenter, suffered very serious injuries on the job when a wall being erected collapsed in a stiff wind. He sued Multi Building Company, Inc., a lumber supplier, alleging that Multi, the general contractor on site, had been negligent in protecting workers by failing to assure that the wall was "toed in" immediately. Under Michigan law, a general contractor owes all workers on a site the duty to protect them from known dangers that pose a hazard to multiple employees in a "common work area."
The Court of Appeals held, however, that Crumley could not hold the general responsible in this case because his attorneys had not adduced any evidence to suggest that the hazard that injured Crumley was "readily observable" or that it created a "high degree of risk to a significant number of workmen." Because the injured carpenter suggested that he did not foresee any danger from wind gusts and he failed to present evidence that anyone else recognized a danger, the Court concluded he had not meet all of the requirements of general contractor liability. The Court cited the fact that the day was "not extraordinarily windy" and the wall had only been up for "15 to 20 minutes" as key to its ruling.