South Alabama Brick Co., Inc. v. Carwie, Conservator of Perez, [Ms. 1130345, Mar. 18, 2016] So. 3d (Ala. 2016). The Supreme Court reverses a judgment awarding $12.6 million in this personal-injury action and remands for entry of a judgment for the defendant. South Alabama Brick Company hired Cooner Roofing to repair the roof on its warehouse. Cooner’s employee, Benito Perez, lost his balance and fell through a skylight. Through his conservator, he sued SAB and Cooner Roofing. The Circuit Court of Mobile County, after a bench trial, entered a judgment awarding Perez $12.6 million against Cooner Roofing and SAB. Cooner Roofing did not appeal. On SAB’s appeal, the Supreme Court holds first that SAB did not owe Perez a duty as premises owner, because Cooner Roofing had superior knowledge as to the conditions of and dangers on the roof. Perez also argued that SAB had a duty to hire a competent roofing contractor, that Cooner Roofing was not competent, and that SAB’s breach of this duty proximately caused his injury. The Supreme Court rejects this theory also. Cases holding that a premises owner has a duty to hire a competent contractor apply when negligence by the contractor causes injury to a third person. Here, the danger was a pre-existing condition, not one that arose by any negligence of Cooner Roofing, and even if there was some negligence of Cooner Roofing, the cases have not held a premises owner liable when an incompetent contractor’s negligence injures the contractor’s own employees.
Related Documents: South AL Brick v Carwie 3-18-16