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Products Liability - Negligence - allegedly defective scaffold rented to the plaintiff painter without guardrails - plaintiff walks off end of scaffold and suffers compound elbow fracture.


The plaintiff painter, a man in his mid-20’s, brought suit against the defendant company from which he rented a scaffold to be used in conjunction with a painting job. The plaintiff contended that the scaffold was provided to him in a defective condition due to the fact that it lacked adequate safeguarding, such as guardrails or extra sections to act as guardrails. The plaintiff alleged that as a result, he fell from the scaffold and suffered a compound fracture of the elbow. The plaintiff’s cause of action proceeded on theories of products liability/defective design and negligence.

The subject accident occurred on March 19, ________, on his third day working upon the six foot scaffold rented from the defendant. The plaintiff’s expert physicist testified that the scaffold was unreasonably dangerous as rented to the plaintiff in that it lacked guardrails, which were required on any scaffold to be used four feet or higher above ground level. The plaintiff’s treating physician testified as to the fracture injury sustained by the plaintiff, which he described as a compound fracture of the left elbow. The physician maintained that the plaintiff suffered permanent partial impairment of the elbow which precluded his return to work as a painting contractor. Since the plaintiff was an unlicensed independent contractor at the time of the accident, he received Workers’ Compensation benefits. The Compensation Lien totaled $________. The plaintiff claimed lost wages of $________ per month during his recuperative period and further claimed future lost earning capacity of $________ per month.

The defendant denied liability and asserted that it provided the plaintiff with a scaffold which matched his specifications. The defendant contended that the plaintiff specifically asked for a scaffold without guardrails. The defendant offered expert testimony to the effect that guardrails were not required on six foot scaffolds. The defendant further contended that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent in failing to exercise due care while utilizing the scaffold. The defendant stressed that the plaintiff had used the scaffold for two days without incident prior to the subject occurrence.

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