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Gwinn v. Harry J. Kloeppel & Assocs., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 28, 2014

JOY ELAINE GWINN, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
HARRY J. KLOEPPEL & ASSOCIATES, INC., Appellee-Defendant

APPEAL FROM THE HENRY CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Mary G. Willis, Judge. Cause No. 33C01-1109-CT-36.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: CHRISTOPHER G. STEVENSON, D. BRUCE KEHOE, Wilson Kehoe Winingham LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana; WAYNE GREESON, The Law Offices of Wayne Greeson, PC, Connersville, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: RICHARD R. SKILES, JANET M. PRATHER, Skiles Detrude, Indianapolis, Indiana.

CRONE, Judge. BAKER, J., and NAJAM, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 688

MEMORANDUM DECISION

CRONE, Judge.

Case Summary

Joy Elaine Gwinn appeals the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Harry J. Kloeppel & Associates, Inc. (" Kloeppel" ), on Gwinn's claim for negligence. Gwinn was injured when a projection screen fell from the ceiling of the high school classroom in which she was teaching. Gwinn filed a complaint for negligence against Kloeppel alleging that Kloeppel, the general contractor on a school renovation project, had negligently installed the projection screen. Kloeppel moved for summary judgment asserting that it did not personally install the screen but had hired a subcontractor for the installation, and also that it owed no duty to

Page 689

Gwinn. Gwinn responded and moved for partial summary judgment asserting that Kloeppel owed a duty to her and was vicariously liable for the negligence of its subcontractors. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Kloeppel finding no duty as a matter of law. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred when it entered summary judgment in favor of Kloeppel. Finding that Kloeppel assumed a nondelegable duty to Gwinn pursuant to contract, we reverse and remand.

Facts and Procedural History

The undisputed facts are that in April 2007, Shenandoah School Corporation contracted with Kloeppel to perform work and services and to supply equipment for a renovation project at Shenandoah High School. As part of that project, Kloeppel purchased projection screens from Claridge Products & Equipment Inc. and subcontracted with Casework Installations, Inc. (" Casework" ), to install the projection screens. On October 26, 2009, Gwinn, a chemistry and physics teacher employed at the high school, was injured when the projection screen in her classroom fell from a ceiling mount while she was retracting the screen. One end of the screen fell and struck Gwinn, knocking her to the floor and causing her to fracture her humerus.

Gwinn filed a complaint for negligence against Kloeppel alleging that Kloeppel " carelessly and negligently failed to exercise its duty of reasonable care in its work installing and hanging the projection screen" in her classroom. Appellant's App. at 12. Kloeppel answered and subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment and designation of evidence arguing that it did not personally install the screen but had hired a subcontractor to do so, that it owed no duty to Gwinn, and even assuming a duty, there is insufficient evidence to establish that Kloeppel breached that duty. Gwinn responded with a cross motion for summary judgment arguing that as the general contractor on the renovation project, Kloeppel owed her a nondelegable duty of care pursuant to its contract with Shenandoah School Corporation and should be held vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of its subcontractors. Following a hearing, the trial court entered its order ...


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