ELGIN — A state appeals panel says a restaurant is not liable for injuries suffered by a man who, after fixing a restaurant's rooftop air conditioning unit, slipped on greasy water he purportedly had drained onto the roof, and fell from a ladder.
The Illinois Second District Appellate Court, which convenes in west suburban Elgin, ruled Feb. 15 that Real Urban Barbeque is not responsible for injuries sustained by Josh Orenstein, an HVAC worker who fell from the roof of the building after slipping on a grease-soaked metal ladder.
Justice Susan F. Hutchinson issued the court's decision with Justices Donald C. Hudson and Katheryn E. Zenoff concurring.
Orenstein had appealed a decision by a Lake County court judge in favor of Real Urban Barbeque.
The judge found Orenstein had created the dangerous work environment "by draining ... grease-laden water from air conditioning unit directly onto the rooftop." The water then dripped onto the ladder, which in turn led to his injuries, not by any negligence on the part of the restaurant or landlord, the judge found.
Orenstein, an employee of Robert Elliot Mechanical Inc., during his visit to the restaurant for an interior ductwork inspection, was notified of a water leak in the kitchen, according to the decision. He believed the leak "was caused by a clogged drain in the air conditioning unit" and went to the roof to inspect it.
Robert Elliot had sent technicians to the restaurant in the past for the same reason, each of whom fixed the clog without issue.
Orenstein "admitted that he did not use a bucket or another type of receptacle to contain the grease-laden water that he released from the air conditioning unit," despite knowing the water would be released onto the roof.
Another Robert Elliot Mechanical Inc. employee, identified as Gina, was on the roof with Orenstein at the time. Orenstein admitted to seeing her walk through a puddle of grease before they descended the ladder into the sprinkler room.
Orenstein also admitted to not taking any steps to "clean the bottoms of his leather loafers before he approached the ladder," according to the decision
The appellate justices ruled Real Urban Barbeque "owed no duty to protect Orenstein against the open and obvious risks associated with the grease-laden water."