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BRLETICH v. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION (12/20/71)

decided: December 20, 1971.

BRLETICH, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, July T., 1966, No. 378, in case of John A. Brletich v. United States Steel Corporation and American Steel and Wire Company and Luria Brothers & Company, Inc. et al.

COUNSEL

Louis C. Glasso, for appellant.

J. Tomlinson Fort, with him Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Barbieri. Mr. Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Barbieri

[ 445 Pa. Page 526]

John A. Brletich, is the appellant here and was plaintiff below in this trespass action against United States Steel Corporation, defendant-appellee (Steel), for personal injuries suffered by him while working on Steel's Donora property as an employee of Luria Brothers & Company, Inc. (Luria). Luria was there as demolition contractor under certain agreements with Steel. Luria subcontracted with D. J. Betters Truck & Salvage (Betters) to provide a crane and operator in connection with demolition of an ore trestle. It was the conduct of Betters' crane operator in this trestle demolition that caused appellant's injuries.

Plaintiff's (appellant's) first suit was against Betters for the negligence of Betters' crane operator. Betters

[ 445 Pa. Page 527]

    brought Luria into that suit as additional defendant on the ground that a Luria employee's negligence was responsible for the injuries. The other suit, the one before us was a separate suit by appellant against Steel charging Steel with certain responsibilities as land owner or possessor including alleged duties of care as to appellant despite the contract with appellant's employer, Luria. Steel brought Luria and Betters into this case as additional defendants. Both suits were consolidated for trial, but appellant settled with Betters for $39,000, and gave Betters a joint tort feasor's release.

This case (the one that originated against Steel), was tried to a jury. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial judge entered a compulsory non-suit in favor of Steel. The case against Luria and Betters were submitted to the jury, resulting in a joint verdict by the jury against Luria and Betters for $165,000. Appellant-plaintiff's motion to remove the non-suit was refused, and Luria's and its insurance carrier's motions for a new trial, and Luria's motion for judgment n.o.v., were dismissed by a court en banc. This appeal questions the propriety of the non-suit and the refusal to take it off.

The two relevant contracts between Steel and Luria provide for the dismantling of the trestle and for the sale to Luria of certain material therefrom. Both contracts provided that Luria was to be responsible for the proper performance of the work and for insuring the safety of all persons who might enter upon the premises, including the contractor's employees. The contracts further require that the work to be performed was subject to the inspection and approval of Steel's designated engineer, but that such inspection and approval would not relieve Luria of its responsibility to properly perform the work.

Appellant had been employed by Luria as a laborer from 1963 until the date of ...


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