Division 2 of the Court of Appeals recently addressed a property owner’s liability to a contractor who is injured performing work on their property.
The action arose from an incident in which Virgil Mihaila, a remodeling contractor, fell from a ladder while installing a new roof on the Troths’ shed and landed on a metal grounding rod that was sticking over a foot out of the ground. Mihaila saw the grounding rod as he was working and recognized the danger, but he claimed that he could not complete the roofing job without encountering it. Although he tried to position his ladder so that he would avoid the grounding rod if he fell, he somehow fell off the ladder and landed on the grounding rod, sustaining multiple rib fractures and a punctured lung.
Mihaila filed a complaint against the Troths, alleging that they were negligent in failing to protect him from the danger of the grounding rod sticking out of the ground. The Troths denied that they were negligent and asserted the affirmative defense of contributory negligence. The Troths filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted, stating that summary judgment was appropriate regarding the Troths’ duty because Mihaila “became aware of the risk, undertook to encounter the risk, and made his own efforts to mitigate the risk.” The trial court denied Mihaila’s motion for reconsideration and Mihaila appealed.