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Carson v. All Erection & Crane Rental Corporation

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 25, 2014

KYLE CARSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ALL ERECTION & CRANE RENTAL CORPORATION, Defendant.

ENTRY ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on Defendant ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corporation's motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 38) and Plaintiff Kyle Carson's motion for partial summary judgment (dkt. no. 43). The motions are fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS ALL Erection's motion and DENIES AS MOOT Carson's motion, for the reasons set forth below.

I. STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court accepts as true the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009). However, "[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial." Id. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and "the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

II. BACKGROUND

On September 20, 2012, Carson was severely injured while working for his employer, White Construction, at the Wildcat Wind Farms in Elwood, Indiana. At the time, White Construction was contracted to build wind turbines at various locations throughout the farm and used large cranes to construct the massive turbines. Carson was primarily employed as a crane oiler for White Construction and regularly worked with a Manitowac 2250 Crawler Crane ("the Crane"). As a crane oiler, Carson was responsible for providing signals to the crane operator and providing general maintenance on the Crane. On the day of the incident, Carson and the crane operator, Joe Dowell, were instructed to move the Crane to a wind turbine platform several miles away from where it had last been used. Throughout the day, Carson and Dowell took turns moving the Crane across the wind farm. Eventually, the Crane approached a road with overhead power lines. Carson knew that the power lines would not be lowered for another hour and a half.

Accordingly, Carson signaled to Dowell to stop the Crane at the base of wood matting that was being used to assist the crane in crossing the roadway. The Crane came to a stop and Carson stood on the wood matting located in front of the Crane in the slight berm up to the road's surface. Then, after having come to a complete stop, the Crane began moving forward and traveled onto the wood matting on which Carson was standing. The weight of the Crane forced the matting to rise into the air and caused Carson to slide down the created ramp and into the Crane's path. Carson's right foot was crushed by the Crane's tracks.

ALL Erection's Br. at 3. (citations omitted).[1]

After the incident, Dowell surmised that the Crane's cruise control or "detent controller" became stuck in the on position, which caused the Crane to continue moving even after he released the travel controller. A third-party inspection of the Crane confirmed such an issue with the detent controller. Craig Scholl from Crane Sales & Service, Inc., determined that the Crane's detent controller could occasionally become engaged without being set by the operator, and that this was caused by an electrical issue with the detent controller's circuitry. A mechanic from ALL Erection repaired the detent controller after the inspection.

As a result of the incident, Carson filed suit against ALL Erection alleging negligence, and specifically, that ALL Erection "knew or should have known of the malfunction of the subject crane and failed to ensure it was in safe, proper working order prior to use by employees of White Construction, " and ALL Erection "breached its duty to provide safe, properly working equipment to the employees of White Construction and to [Carson]." Compl. at ΒΆΒΆ 6-7.

ALL Erection now seeks summary judgment on Carson's claims. Conversely, Carson has moved for partial summary judgment "as to the duty owed by ALL, a duty of reasonable care when renting equipment." Carson's Resp. at 1.

Where relevant, additional facts are noted below.

III. DISCUSSION

ALL Erection argues that it is entitled to summary judgment ...


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