Franke, Schultz & Mullen, PC | <span >Ozark County, MO Court Grants Summary Judgment in Co-Employee Liability Case</span >
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Ozark County, MO Court Grants Summary Judgment in Co-Employee Liability Case

Ricky Cantrell was working for L Krupp Construction, Inc. in 2006 when he was injured on the job site, while assisting others in hoisting a load of plywood via a crane to a separate area of the jobsite when that plywood load slipped from its straps and fell on him.  Mr. Cantrell brought suit against his co-employee supervisor, Bruce “Dean” Hutsell, arguing that Mr. Hutsell was affirmatively negligent pursuant to Missouri’s co-employee liability standards.  Mr. Cantrell’s version of the facts included him informing his supervisor that the two nylon straps needed to hoist the plywood were mismatched, in that one strap was two feet shorter than the other, which caused the plywood to fall on him.  Mr. Cantrell maintained that he warned his supervisor, Dean Hutsell, that the use of these uneven nylon straps was unsafe, and further maintained that his supervisor instructed him to use the straps anyway. 

Because Mr. Cantrell’s injuries occurred in 2006, they fell within the time period before Missouri’s Worker’s Compensation Statutes were amended in 2012, thus allowing Mr. Cantrell to assert a cause of action against a co-employee, under certain situations.  Navigating the recent developments in this ever-evolving area of law, FSM argued on Mr. Hutsell behalf that he could not be held liable for a claim of co-employee negligence brought by Mr. Cantrell because no duty was alleged against Mr. Hutsell that was separate and distinct from the nondelegable duties of his employer.  The firm further argued that Mr. Cantrell’s theory of recovery evidenced that his injuries were attributable to a breach of these nondelegable duties of the employer to provide a safe work environment and safe equipment, thus eliminating any common law claims of negligence against his supervisor. The Circuit Court of Ozark County agreed with Mr. Hutsell’s position, and granted summary judgment in his favor.   Suzanne Bruss and Jim Meyers of FSM's Kansas City office represented Mr. Hutsell.