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Dismissal of suit by injured ironworker improper: Appeals court

Posted On: Apr. 21, 2023 12:00 PM CST


The California Court of Appeals Thursday reversed a trial court’s granting of summary judgment to a general contractor being sued by an injured ironworker who was hurt while working on a construction project at Stanford University.

The court ruled a lower judge wrongly dismissed a suit against Devcon Construction Inc. initiated by Jose Hernandez, who was injured in February 2018 when a dirt bench next to an excavation pit gave out.

Mr. Hernandez, an employee of subcontractor Pacific Steel Group, sued Devcon, but the company argued it could not be held liable for injuries to subcontractor employees.

A trial judge agreed with Devcon.

Mr. Hernandez argued Devcon should be liable since Devcon had control over work not delegated to Pacific Steel.

The appeals judges ruled summary judgment was premature since there are factual issues in the dispute that should be allowed to play out in court. 

The appeals court said if a general contractor does not delegate the task of providing safe equipment for workers, it could be liable in a civil suit to a subcontractor’s employee.

The appeals court remanded the case to the trial court for the reversal of summary judgment.