October 11, 2023. Partner Jay Eidex and Associate Attorney Latevia Priddy won Summary Judgment on behalf of their client in the State Court of Gwinnett County.
In 2021, Mr. Eidex’ client SMG Construction began building a home in Jefferson, Georgia. SMG oversaw all of the construction of the home, from purchasing the lot, purchasing all the materials, hiring the subcontractors, overseeing the contractors, and overseeing the general accounting on the project. A separate entity, MB Endeavors secured all the permits and provided the contact information of the majority of the subcontractors.
The incident giving rise to the lawsuit occurred on December 20, 2021. Plaintiff was a subcontractor and came to the home to install some bathroom cabinetry. He testified that he arrived at the home and placed his air compressor on the bottom floor and then went up and down the stairs several times transporting the cabinetry materials into the vicinity of the upstairs bathroom so that he could perform the work. He left the air compressor at the bottom of the stairs and pulled the hose up the stairs to operate his equipment, walking backwards. In order to unkink the hose, he continued walking backward past the stairs, past the bathroom, down a short hall, and then over an open balcony, falling approximately 10 feet below into the downstairs foyer. As a result of the fall, he sustained numerous injuries.
It was undisputed that the balcony was not secured by a rail as required by OSHA. It was disputed as to whether those OSHA rules were applicable as to SMG. It was not disputed that the Plaintiff saw the hazard and was aware of the hazard prior to the fall because he admitted to seeing it when he was transporting his materials up the stairs.
Mr. Eidex and Ms. Priddy moved for summary judgment arguing that:
1. The plaintiff’s OSHA Related arguments were irrelevant citing Herrin v. Peeches Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Inc., 235 Ga. App. 528, 532 (1998) which held that whether or not there were an OSHA violation present at the worksite is irrelevant where a Plaintiff has equal or superior knowledge of the hazard.
2. The Plaintiff admitted having actual knowledge of the hazard and that his actual knowledge of the hazard as admitted in his deposition testimony barred his recovery.
After considering all of the briefs filed by Mr. Eidex & Ms. Priddy as well as opposing counsel, Judge Ronda Colvin granted summary judgment in favor of Mr. Eidex’ client holding that the Plainitff had actual knowledge of the hazard and judgment as a matter of law was warranted.
The case is Daniel Cook v. SMG Construction Services, LLC and MB Endeavors, State Court of Gwinnett County, CAFN 22-C-01623.
Read more about Partner Jay Eidex here.
Read more about Attorney Latevia Priddy here.