Zuroff v. Turner Construction, et al., Chartis Specialty Insurance v. The Raymond Group, Brady Company
Mary Childs successfully defended The Raymond Group in a construction site accident case venued in the San Diego County Superior Court. During construction of the Connections Housing project Chartis Specialty Insurance's insured, Allied Industries, Inc. (demolition subcontractor), at the direction of Turner Construction (general contractor) cut an opening in the wall in the basement area. The opening lead to a 12' drop to the sub-basement. Instead of erecting a barricade at the opening in the wall, Allied installed a barricade about 12' from the wall opening it cut. Raymond Group (drywall and steel stud subcontractor) did work in the area after Allied cut the opening in the wall and erected a barricade to block access to the area where the wall opening existed. Raymond's employee asked Turner's employee to relocate the barricade so Raymond could do some required work in the area. Brady Group (door installer) also did work in the area after Raymond did its work in the area. Plaintiff, an employee of Cosco was checking the fire sprinkler lines in the basement area of the building when he stepped through the unprotected opening in the wall falling to the ground below (about 12') sustaining injuries. Plaintiff claims there was no barricade in place anywhere at the time of his fall.
Chartis took it upon itself to fund a settlement with the plaintiff in the amount of $165,000. Chartis included all defendants on the settlement agreement. Chartis Specialty pursued defendants The Raymond Group and Brady Company for indemnity and contribution based on Chartis' allegation that either Raymond or Brady removed the barricade Allied installed leaving the opening in the wall unprotected and thereby creating a dangerous condition. Because of the equitable nature of the claims, the case was tried to the bench. The court found that Chartis/Allied failed to carry their burden to demonstrate that Brady or Raymond were the legal cause of plaintiff's injuries. The court found that the only substantial factor in plaintiff's injury was Allied's creation of a hazard and its failure to properly protect tradesman from that hazard by failing to properly barricade it and failing to warn of its existence at safety meetings and otherwise.