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STRINGERT v. LASTIK PRODUCTS CO. (11/24/59)

November 24, 1959

STRINGERT
v.
LASTIK PRODUCTS CO., INC., APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 200, March T., 1959, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1956, No. 1384, in case of William Henry Stringert v. Lastik Products Co., Inc. et al. Judgment affirmed. Trespass for personal injuries. Before WEISS, J. Verdict for plaintiff in amount of $30,000 and against Lastik Products Company, Inc. and Limbach Company, and verdict in favor of National Concrete Fireproofing Company; motions of Lastik Products Company, Inc. for judgment n.o.v. and new trial denied and judgment entered on verdict. Lastik Products Company, Inc. appealed.

COUNSEL

William W. Milnes, with him Eugene B. Strassburger, and Brandt, Riester, Brandt & Malone, and Strassburger and McKenna, for appellant.

Ralph S. Davis, Jr., with him Evans, Ivory & Evans, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Bok

[ 397 Pa. Page 505]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK

Plaintiff was injured when he fell through a hole in a roof on October 23, 1954, on a building job at Fisher Body, Allegheny County.

He sued National Concrete Fireproofing Company, the general contractor, and Lastik Products Company, subcontracting to install a precast concrete roof. These defendants brought in the plaintiff's employer, the Limbach Company, also subcontracting to insulate the roof, as additional defendant.

The jury found for plaintiff and awarded him $30,000 against the two subcontractors, and found in favor of the general contractor. The Limbach Company has filed no motions, but Lastik Products Company asks for judgment n.o.v. and for a new trial.

Plaintiff was a college student doing summer labor. He was on the ground, shovelling slag into a hoist designed to lift it on to the roof, when he was assigned to go aloft and move the hoist to another location. He had not been on the roof before. He had to carry the hoist pipe across part of the roof and over a fire wall, and in making what he called a "general view" of the roof before entering on it he noticed three small vent holes near the outside of the roof and saw that they were protected by a barricade or curb of planking. The rest of the roof looked solid black: it had been covered with black tar paper and pitch and there were no lights or windows beneath it. He also said that the roof "looked flat except, of course, for the three vent covers ... I was watching where I was going."

[ 397 Pa. Page 506]

Having made one trip with hoist pipe, he was told to help another workman raise a wheelbarrow over the fire wall. He described the ensuing events in these words: "Well, he had tipped the wheelbarrow up to the wall, handles to me. I grabbed the handles. And we lifted up the wheelbarrow. And I started to back up to let him get his part of the wheelbarrow over [the wall]. It's about four and a half foot long, I guess. And then he reached over and set the wheel down and I took one or two steps [backward] to turn the wheelbarrow around; and that's when I went through."

What he went through was an unguarded hole about four by six feet in size, about eight feet from the wall and ten feet from the edge of the roof. Lastik's men had cut the three smaller vent holes and had curbed or barricaded them, but they had not curbed the critical one. There was this testimony: "Q. Who did the slab work on this job? A. Lastic Products. ... Q. Do you know how there happened to be a hole where that was? A. The [concrete] slabs were left out. ... Q. Who closed in the [vent] holes? A. The slab men. Q. ... When you observed the hole through which Mr. Stringert fell, were there any barricades around that particular hole? A. No, ...


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