Worker who alleges negligence in providing work platform can sue where contractor created new risk
Bernie Thornton suffered injuries rendering him a paraplegiac when he fell from a work platform attached to a Pettibone lift vehicle on a job site. He argued that the general contractor owed him a duty to maintain a safe common work area, however, the contractor argued that its only jobsite duties were "contractual" duties to the owner--and therefore it owed no duty of reasonable care to Thornton. The trial court agreed with the Defendant and awarded it a directed verdict.On appeal, Thornton's attorneys claimed that the court erred in awarding a directed verdict because there was a genuine issue of material fact with regard to whether the general contractor created an unsafe condition by grading soil into an unstable berm that posed a continuing hazard to third-parties. The Court of Appeals agreed and sent the case back to the lower court for trial.