Appeals court rules against plaintiff who tried to pass on responsibilty to contractor in slip and fall case

By Holland Phillips | Dec 23, 2013

U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s judgment on a squabble between two companies over which one should shoulder the blame in a slip-and-fall case brought by an employee.

An employee filed a complaint with Weeks Marine after he claims he was injured when he fell 14 feet while making repairs on a module contracted to his employer.

As a result, Weeks Marine sought defense and indemnification from Standard Concrete. Standard Concrete claims it had no duty to do such and sought a motion for exoneration from a district court.

Meanwhile, Weeks Marine filed for declaratory relief in federal court. The court granted the motion for Standard Concrete’s exoneration on recommendation from a magistrate judge. Weeks Marine appealed.

Because the module that Johnson was adjusting was not a Standard Concrete product, Standard Concrete contended they were not responsible for damages incurred. They referenced the “Additional Terms” of the indemnity agreement between the two parties in their defense. Indeed, they argued, Johnson attributes his accident to the construction process itself and not the module.

The court of appeals found Weeks Marine’s counterarguments unpersuasive in light of the language in the Purchase Order and could not find Standard Concrete liable for defects on the product in question.

The case was heard by Circuit Judges W. Eugene Davis, Edith H. Jones and District Judge Anthony J. Milazzo Jr.

Case no. 12-20610.

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