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Katie E. Gorrie Secures Summary Judgment in Significant Defense Win for General Contractor

March 14, 2017

Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Katie E. Gorrie, obtained summary judgment in a construction negligence claim filed against her client, a large general contractor in Illinois. It is rare that motions for summary judgment are granted in construction negligence cases, which makes this ruling a development of potential interest to general contractors throughout Illinois.

In this case, the plaintiff was a union roofer working for a subcontractor at a construction site.  The plaintiff claimed that while working at a hospital renovation project, he slipped and fell, resulting in injury and subsequent wage loss. The plaintiff was treated for his injuries, and claimed due to the severity of his injuries, he was permanently unable to return to work as a roofer.

The plaintiff argued that Johnson & Bell’s client, the general contractor, was responsible for his injuries. Johnson & Bell responded by filing a motion for summary judgment, which argued that the facts surrounding the alleged incident failed to rise to the level necessary to impose liability on the general contractor.  The Honorable Judge Kathy Flanagan of the Circuit Court of Cook County agreed with Johnson & Bell, and granted summary judgment in favor of Johnson & Bell’s client. Specifically, Judge Flanagan ruled that the evidence in the case did not indicate the necessary amount of retained control so as to impose liability in a construction negligence context against Johnson & Bell’s client.  In addition, the Court ruled that Johnson & Bell’s client had no notice of 1) any dangerous condition where the plaintiff was working or 2) that the condition complained of by the plaintiff posed an unreasonable risk of harm.

Importantly for construction companies, the Court noted that the plaintiff and his employer were in control of the plaintiff’s fall protection, as well as its set up.  The Court also noted that the plaintiff and his employer were in control of how the plaintiff performed his work. The impact of the recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Carney can be seen in this summary judgment.

Related Items of Interest:

New Procedure for Setting Trial Dates in Cook County Circuit Court Law Division Cases

Appellate Court Ruling Grants General Contractors and Construction Managers New Protection in Section 414 Actions

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