Plaintiff, a nurse working in a Dutchess County Hospital specimen room, was struck on the head by a 90 lb. overhead cabinet which suddenly detached from the wall.
Investigation disclosed that the cabinet was installed 8 months earlier, as part of a hospital expansion project involving construction of a new services wing. It was concluded that our client, a metal frame and sheetrock contractor, failed to install necessary wood backing for the cabinet installation per architect specifications, and that the cabinet in question was improperly attached to the wall by screwing it into the metal studs. Plaintiff brought suit against the cabinet maker, the general contractor who allegedly approved the alternate method for attaching the cabinet to the wall, the cabinet installer, the metal framer (our client) who concededly omitted the wood blocking, and the architect who was present and impliedly concurred with the cabinet’s revised installation method.
Plaintiff was granted summary judgment and the case was directed to proceed as a liability apportionment trial.
We argued that the missing wood blocking was an expected occurrence on a job of this scope and nature, and that our client’s liability should be cut off by actions of the cabinet installer who was indisputably aware of the blocking omission at the time of the installation, along with other parties who approved the revised cabinet installation procedure. The jury agreed with our assessment and awarded our client a Defense Verdict, holding the cabinet installer, general contractor, and architect, responsible for the occurrence in varying percentages.