ESI, Inc. of Tenn. v. WestPoint Stevens, Inc., 562 S.E. 2d 198 (Ga. App., 2002)

WestPoint Stevens, Inc., hired a general contractor, ESI, Inc., to install a new boiler facility at a plant in North Carolina. ESI had hired H & L Electrical as their subcontractor for electrical work on installing the new boiler. Two employees with H & L were working on handling electrical wires which they believed were shut off, when they suffered electrical burns. The two employees filed a lawsuit against WestPoint and H & L. The lawsuit was settled, with WestPoint paying $500,000 and WestPoint’s insurer paying an additional $250,000. WestPoint then filed a claim against ESI for indemnity. The trial court granted WestPoint’s summary judgment motion on the claim of contractual indemnity, which ESI appealed.

ESI argued the indemnification clause was unenforceable. They also argued that summary judgement should be denied because there was a disputed issue of facts. However, the Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that ESI was required to indemnify WestPoint, regardless of employee negligence. On appeal, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision.

Dalton v. 933 Peachtree, LP., 661 S.E.2d 156 (Ga. App., 2008)

Javier Berriel Lopez and Arthur Dalton were employees with Glass Systems, Inc., working on a condominium construction project, owned by 933 Peachtree, L.P. Arthur Dalton was a foreman on one of the crews installing the glass and frames on the project. According to Dalton, while he was unaware of any conversations with Georgia Power that the power lines were not energized, he said everyone was under the assumption that they were not energized. However, when they were using a lift to bring the covers up to the fourth floor, they discussed keeping the lift as close to the building as possible, and they should assume the wires were live. When Lopez and Dalton were lifting an aluminum slab edge cover to the fourth floor, the cover came into contact with high-voltage power lines, electrocuting Lopez and Dalton, resulting in severe burns.

The lower court granted the summary judgment motions of 933 Peachtree and Georgia Power. Judgment was granted to Georgia Power because they were not given notice of the use of a lift near the power lines. Judgment was granted to 933 Peachtree on the basis that the plaintiff’s failed to show such control over the independent contractors by 933 Peachtree. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trail court’s decision.

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