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Schaefer v. Universal Scaffolding & Equipment, LLC

United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois

January 23, 2015

MATTHEW SCHAEFER and CYNTHIA SCHAEFER, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNIVERSAL SCAFFOLDING & EQUIPMENT, LLC, DYNEGY MIDWEST GENERATION, LLC and BRAND ENERGY SERVICES, LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PHILIP M. FRAZIER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Before the Court is Dynegy Midwest Generation, LLC’s (“Dynegy”) Motion For Summary Judgment on Count IV for Construction Negligence (Doc. 190). Plaintiff Matthew Schaefer filed a response in opposition (Doc. 197) and Dynegy filed a response thereto (Doc. 198). In November 2008 plaintiff Matthew Schaefer, a carpenter employed by defendant Brand Energy Services, LLC, (“Brand”) was injured while erecting scaffolding at Dynegy’s Baldwin Power Plant in Baldwin, Illinois. According to the second amended complaint, a piece of scaffolding separated from the scaffolding structure and fell on the plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that the scaffolding that fell on him was manufactured by defendant Universal Scaffolding & Equipment, LLC (“Universal”). Complicating matters is the fact that the piece of scaffolding that fell on the plaintiff was lost sometime in 2010 or 2011.

Because the scaffolding in question can no longer be found, the plaintiffs’ negligence claim (Count I), product liability claim (Count II), failure to warn claim (Count III), and loss of consortium claim (Count VII) against Universal were disposed of by summary judgment in Judge Reagan’s February 10, 2014 Order (Doc. 159). Judge Reagan’s order also bifurcated Dynegy’s contribution claim against Universal, pending the outcome of the other claims. The following counts remain:

Count IV: Matthew Schaefer negligence claim against Dynegy
Count V: Matthew and Cynthia Schaefer negligent spoliation claim against Dynegy
Count VI: Matthew and Cynthia Schaefer negligent spoliation claim against Brand
Count VII: Cynthia Schaefer loss of consortium claim against Dynegy and Brand.

Dynegy also asserts two crossclaims:

Count I: Dynegy contribution claim against Brand
Count II: Dynegy contribution claim against Universal (bifurcated).

Dynegy now seeks summary judgment on Count IV, plaintiff Matthew Schaefer’s negligence claim. For the following reasons, Dynegy’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant Brand is in the business of installing industrial scaffolding. Defendant Dynegy operates a coal power plant in Baldwin, Illinois. In April 2008 Brand and Dynegy entered into an agreement (the Master Service Agreement, or “MSA”) which set forth the conditions upon which Brand would provide scaffolding related services at the Baldwin plant. At the Baldwin site, Brand installed “cup lock” system scaffolding. Cup lock scaffolding is a system where the scaffold bars have tabs on them, and a “cup” or “ring” slips over the tabs to lock the scaffold together. Cup lock scaffolding was the type of scaffolding Schaefer worked on when he was injured. The scaffolding was needed because Dynegy was installing a dry flue-gas desulfurization or “scrubber” system at the Baldwin plant.

Relevant provisions of the MSA include Section A.23 of the MSA, “RELATIONSHIP OF THE PARTIES” which states:

“Contractor is, and shall continue to be, an independent contractor, and any provisions of this Agreement or any Purchase Order which may appear to give Dynegy the right to direct Contractor as to details of performing any Services, or to exercise a measure of control over Contractor’s performance of the Services, shall be interpreted to mean that Contractor will follow the instructions of Dynegy with respect to the results of the Services achieved only and not in the means whereby the Services are to be accomplished, Contractor shall have complete and authoritative control as to the details performing the Services.”

Despite the “independent contractor” provision, the MSA did have a number of provisions that allowed Dynegy to exhibit some degree of participation concerning ...


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