Employer claims alleged tree cutter was trespassing

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Feb 3, 2015

An employer accused of failing to supervise a man allegedly hired to cut off tree limbs argues that the plaintiff was trespassing on the Belleville farm.

Plaintiff Cody Lafarge filed a lawsuit in October that alleges he was working for defendant Kelly Thurman on June 6, when he was instructed to climb into a tree at Thurman’s farm in Belleville to saw off limbs.

Lafarge claims Thurman did not provide him with a safe place to work, failed to provide him with proper machinery or safety equipment and didn't supervise him while he was cutting the tree.

In turn, Lafarge alleges he sustained severe and permanent injuries to his head and body, became sick, sore, lame and disordered, and endured great physical pain and mental anguish. He also claims he was unable to attend to his usual duties, deprived of wages and incurred medical costs.

Thurman, however, denied the allegations in her Jan. 26 answer to the complaint.

Accusing the plaintiff of contributing to his alleged injuries, Thurman argues that Lafarge was a trespasser on her property and was allegedly injured as a result of being in a tree. Thurman asserts she had no duty to him.

“Any injury to plaintiff was the result of an open and obvious and self-induced danger for which there is no liability on the part of defendant,” the defendant claims.

Lafarge seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson scheduled a status conference for March 2 at 9 a.m.

Christopher B. Hantla of Hantla and Hantla in Litchfield represents Lafarge. Richard E. Boyle of Boyle Brasher LLC in Belleville represents Thurman.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-696

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