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Illinois Attorneys Obtain Summary Judgment in Construction Negligence Case

Chicago attorneys Scott D. Stephenson and Cecil E. Porter obtained summary judgment on behalf of their client, a framing carpentry subcontractor, in a construction negligence case in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

Scott and Cecil’s client contracted with the co-defendant general contractor to perform the rough carpentry/framing for a single family home construction project. The scope of work included installation of temporary safety rails across an open loft on the second floor overlooking a foyer in the home. The framing work, including installation of the safety rails, was performed and the client left the site. Approximately one month later, plaintiff arrived at the site to install tile. On July 3, 2014, at the end of his work day, plaintiff was cleaning up his work space near the second floor loft and stepped backwards over the edge of the loft and fell to the first floor. The temporary safety rails were no longer in place at the time of plaintiff’s fall. Plaintiff sustained severe back injuries as a result of the fall.

Plaintiff argued that there was no “documentary evidence” that the rails were installed—despite testimony to the contrary from the client representatives and general contractor representatives—and that the client had a duty to continue to monitor the job site after completion of its work to ensure the rails remained in place, or if removed, were replaced.

Scott and Cecil successfully argued that their framing carpentry subcontractor client did not owe a duty to plaintiff because the rough carpentry/framing work, including installation of the safety rails, was completed at least one month before plaintiff’s accident; plaintiff’s accident was not caused by any condition on the premises created by their client; the temporary safety rails were removed by someone else, unbeknownst to the client; and their client was not in possession or control of the premises.

The Court granted summary judgment, agreeing with Scott and Cecil that there was no material question of fact that the rails had been installed, and further finding that the client did not owe a duty to monitor the site to ensure the rails remained in place.