Subcontractor Death: Is Owner Liable?
A warehouse owner hired a subcontractor to paint his roof, a subcontractor who had been at the warehouse many times and knew that the roof had skylights. He was also well experienced working on roofs.
Caution: Danger Ahead
Before the work began, the owner of the warehouse specifically warned the roofer of the dangers associated with working around the skylights. The owner told him to use the safety lines on the roof and to stay clear of the skylights. The work began at 4:30 in the afternoon and continued into the night. When he was through for the day, the subcontractor climbed down from the roof to get some water. He then went back up the roof to gather his tools. But doing so at night time, he fell through one of the skylights to his death.
Out of The Owner’s Control
The subcontractor’s widow sued the warehouse owner for negligence, arguing the work environment was inherently dangerous. The court disagreed. Not only did the owner not control the manner in which the work was to be performed, but he specifically warned the subcontractor of the dangers associated with this job.
An unfortunate incident for sure, but not one where the owner was at all liable.