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POWELL v. T. BRUCE CAMPBELL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY (11/12/63)

November 12, 1963

POWELL
v.
T. BRUCE CAMPBELL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 177, March T., 1963, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, March T., 1961, No. 216, in case of Loy F. Powell v. T. Bruce Campbell Construction Company. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Nathan Routman, with him Routman, Moore & Goldstone, for appellant.

Alvah M. Shumaker, with him Albert E. Acker, for appellee.

Before Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 412 Pa. Page 456]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Loy F. Powell, the plaintiff in this case, was engaged in painting the structural steel of a building being erected by the defendant, T. Bruce Campbell Construction Company, when he fell from a girder he was

[ 412 Pa. Page 457]

    traversing and was seriously injured. He brought suit against the Campbell Company, charging negligence, and recovered a verdict. The defendant company has appealed, contending that it is entitled to judgment n.o.v. on the basis that the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence.

The facts briefly are as follows. The steel skeleton structure of the involved buildings consisted, as many steel buildings do, of vertical columns and horizontal girders. The girders were about five inches wide and the distance between the girders, on the various horizontal levels, was four or five feet. To hold these girders to an accurate alignment, steel rods penetrated the girders at five or six-foot intervals. Each end of the rods was threaded and thus could receive a nut which screwed on and held the rod in place. One walking on these five-inch-wide girders could assure himself of safety by sliding his arm along over the girder above him. When he would get to a tie rod, he would have to move around the rod, to reach the other side of it. Whether it was a prudent thing, in getting by the rod, to grasp the rod and swing around it is the question of alleged contributory negligence in this case.

On the day of the happening, which made Powell a plaintiff, he was painting the steel work of a building being erected for the Medusa Portland Cement Co., in Wampum, Pennsylvania, when the warning of some dynamite blast being conducted in the immediate vicinity sent him scurrying to a sheltered area to escape flying debris. The blast terminated, he started back to the place where he had left his paint bucket. He walked along one of the girders heretofore described and as he reached one of the tie rods he took hold of it, with the intention of swinging around it. As it developed later, the nut at one end of this rod had not been screwed on tightly, it slipped off, the rod broke

[ 412 Pa. Page 458]

    away from its moorings and the plaintiff plunged head downward ...


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