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O'NEILL v. UNITED STATES

November 20, 1967

Francis C. O'NEILL and Aetna Casualty Company
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Defendant, v. AMBROSE-AUGUSTERFER CORP., Third-Party Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD, JR.

 JOHN W. LORD, Jr., District Judge.

 After a trial before the Court without a jury, in a personal injury action for damages resulting out of an injury to a worker sustained while working on federal property, upon pleadings and proof, the Court makes the following:

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff, Francis C. O'Neill, is a steam fitter, a member of the Local Steam Fitters Union, and a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 2. The defendant, United States of America, on September 28, 1962 was the owner and operator of the Post Office Building located at 30th and Market Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 3. On September 28, 1962, the third-party defendant, Ambrose-Augusterfer Corp., was the subcontractor under the prime contractor, Wark and Company, for the installation of air conditioning equipment at the Post Office Building at 30th and Market Streets.

 4. On September 28, 1962, the plaintiff was employed by the third-party defendant as a steam fitter and was engaged in cutting a hole through the third floor of the Post Office Building, and at that time was engaged in the scope of his employment lawfully being on the said third floor as a business visitor engaged in the performance of the said subcontract.

 5. In connection with this occupancy and control of the third floor of the said Post Office Building, the defendant maintained and operated a mail conveyor belt system that was in operation on or about September 28, 1962 in close proximity to the area in which plaintiff was working.

 6. The plaintiff was on September 28, 1962 engaged in cutting a hole with an electric hammer or drill at a point between the conveyor belt and the west wall of the Post Office Building on the third floor.

 7. Plaintiff was within a class of persons whom the defendant knew, or should have known, was working in the immediate vicinity of the conveyor belt.

 8. The plaintiff's left hand was injured as a result of the physical intrusion of his hand into the operating machinery of the conveyor belt system.

 9. While an owner or possessor of property has a duty to warn and/or protect business invitees from dangerous conditions on the premises, there is nothing inherently or latently dangerous about the mail conveyor belt.

 10. Defendant had no reason to believe that plaintiff's working next to the conveyor belt constituted an unreasonable risk ...


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