Painter loses common work area injury claim
James Shawl suffered injury to his back when a large electrical box with protruding screws fell and struck him while he was working as a subcontractor painting the entrance to the Saginaw County Event Center. The General Contractor on the project was Spence Brothers construction company. Shawl sued Spence Brothers, arguing that it negligently fulfilled its duty to protect employees working in the common area from construction hazards.
The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Shawl's claim. It ruled that the electrical box did not pose a substantial risk of severe harm and that a significant number of workers were not endangered by the box. Therefore, the risk it posed did not create a "common work area" duty on the part of Spence Brothers to protect the employees of subcontractors.