Jim Knudsen obtains partial defense summary judgment in personal injury case.

Jim Knudsen obtains partial summary judgment for defendant Menard, Inc. in a Wisconsin personal injury case, Strebe v. Menard, Inc. et al, involving an independent trucker who fell from atop a loaded flatbed trailer at the Menard’s Distribution Center in Eau Claire. Plaintiff alleged Menard was negligent for failing to provide him with fall protection; he also alleged that Menard violated Wisconsin’s Safe Place Act. Circuit Court Judge Michael Schumacher found as a matter of law that plaintiff was an independent contractor, and that as such Wisconsin law did not impose liability upon Menard for any passive negligence (failures to act). Judge Schumacher also found that Menard could not be held liable under the Safe Place Act, because the injury at issue was not caused by any defect in the premises, but was instead caused by the alleged failure to provide the independent contractor plaintiff with a means of fall protection. Judge Schumacher found that under the Act, Menard was not obligated to provide “safe employment” to an independent contractor. The Judge concluded that there was, however, a fact issue as to whether an alleged affirmative act by Menard in allowing ice to collect on top of the load caused or contributed to plaintiff’s fall, despite the fact that at his deposition plaintiff testified that he did not know why he fell. Wisconsin law makes parties like Menard liable to independent contractors only for affirmative acts of negligence. Trial is expected in the late Summer or early Fall of 2016