Missing Barricades Lead to a Fall Down an Elevator Shaft

Synopsis

Defendant Richter & Ratner Contracting Corp., a general contractor, was performing a seismic and structural upgrade of a retail building in downtown San Francisco. The defendant hired subcontractors to replace the elevator, but did not ensure that barricades were placed around the open elevator shaft to prevent falls. Plaintiff Robert, a construction superintendent employed by one of the subcontractors, slipped into the unguarded elevator shaft on August 30, 2004. He suffered permanent, disabling injuries to his back, neck, and knee.

Defendant contended that Robert was negligent for not paying more attention while he worked, and that he was faking his injury to get prescription painkillers. At trial, the jury determined that Richter & Ratner was 98% liable for Robert's injuries.