CHICAGO — A federal judge has rejected a call for summary judgment that attempted to dismiss a case involving the death of a construction worker who fell from a second-story balcony that allegedly had been left unsecured.
U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. issued the decision in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Oct. 10
Angela Liszkiewicz, widow of Scott Liszkiewicz, sued contractors CRG Residential and their sub-contractors RC Construction and Stoney Creek Construction for negligence in the death of her husband.
CRG filed the motion for summary judgment, alleging it should not be held liable because it did not retain control over the subcontractor, RC Construction, and did not owe the accident victim a “duty of care.”
The court disagreed.
The accident occurred Nov. 18, 2014. Scott Liszkiewicz was working on a housing project at the Prairie View Apartments in suburban Bellwood, renovating several town homes.
A worker for RC allegedly was installing siding on the second-floor balcony of a maintenance building when he asked a supervisor if he should cut the balcony railing to place siding around it, according to court testimony. The supervisor purportedly indicated he should cut the railing and would return with screws to reattach the hand railing.
The supervisor denied giving such instructions.
The worker then allegedly cut the railing, and other members of the crew temporarily nailed it back in place. The workers then allegedly focused on other work.
Liszkiewicz came to the second-story balcony to change a light fixture. An RC laborer allegedly asked him to hand him a tool. Liszkiewicz allegedly leaned on the railing and fell off the balcony.
The central issue was who retained control of the work and who was responsible to provide Liszkiewicz with a “duty of care.”
Tharp found the supervisor was on the job site each week for CRG and directed and supervised the details of RC’s work. In addition, RC crew members testified the supervisor allegedly authorized the rail to be cut, leading to the fall.
While the supervisor denied giving the instruction, Tharp countered that what mattered was that CRG supervised and provided direction for the work of RC.
Tharp ruled the supervisor's on-site presence and oversight of RC’s work supported a reasonable allegation the supervisor was in a position to prevent the accident.
Tharp denied CRG’s motion for a summary judgement.
CRG is represented in the action by the firm of Pretzel & Stouffer, of Chicago.
Liszkiewicz is represented by the firm of Corboy & Demetrio, of Chicago.