On October 4, 2022, Zausmer shareholder Daniel I. Jedell won a significant victory for a firm client when his motion for summary disposition was granted, dismissing a construction accident case that involved millions in claimed damages due to a traumatic brain injury.
The plaintiff, an ironworker, was injured on a construction site when a crane that he and his co-employees were utilizing to maneuver a steel I-beam tipped and fell, striking him in the head. The plaintiff accused his employer of an intentional tort in an attempt to overcome the exclusive remedy provision of Michigan’s Workers’ Disability Compensation Act. He additionally sued the general contractor, seeking to hold it liable under the common work area doctrine and vicariously liable for the negligence of its subcontractors.
Later, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint asserting claims against the firm’s client, a structural steel manufacturer that subcontracted all of the steel erection work to the plaintiff’s employer. Notably, the firm client’s only role was to fabricate and deliver steel to the construction site, which was then erected by the plaintiff’s employer, and it had no involvement in any of the means or methods of installing steel.
In addition to physical injuries, the plaintiff alleged the accident caused post-traumatic stress disorder, precluding him from ever working in a construction setting again, resulting in a seven-figure loss of earnings capacity claim. After deposing numerous fact and expert witnesses, and proving the firm client’s limited scope of work, Dan filed a motion for summary disposition. Specifically, Dan argued the plaintiff’s immediate employer was legally responsible for his safety, and that the common work area exception to the general rule of non-liability only applies to owners and general contractors.
Following oral argument, the court issued a written opinion granting Dan’s motion for summary disposition and dismissing the case with prejudice.