General Contractor’s Use of Unsafe Ladder Causes Fall and Broken Leg

Synopsis

On January 24, 2011, Kenneth L. Gibson was visiting a construction project in Los Gatos, California. On that date, the general contractor, Devcon Construction Incorporated asked Ken, a roofing superintendent, to take a look at something on the roof. Devcon's superintendent led Ken up a fiberglass ladder that had been left propped up against the building.

Unbeknownst to Ken, the ladder was only the top half of an extension ladder, and therefore missing the rubber feet that keep a ladder from slipping on hard surfaces. While Ken was climbing the ladder, it slipped, and he fell to the concrete floor below. Ken sustained fractures to his right tibial plateau and ankle.

Devcon denied responsibility for the ladder and Ken's injuries. Devcon argued that as a roofing superintendent, Ken was at least as equally familiar with the safe use of ladders and was therefore personally responsible for his own injuries. However, pre-trial discovery revealed that prior to Ken's visit, Devcon expressly agreed to conduct inspections and remove unsafe equipment from the jobsite. This responsibility included the inspection of all ladders at the project, including the ladder from which Ken fell. Devcon failed to inspect the ladder from which Ken fell, and failed to warn him of this dangerous piece of equipment.