Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Companies deny liability in suit alleging man tripped at Fairview Heights homecoming


By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Aug 13, 2018

A contracting company and electrical company argue that a Fairview Heights homecoming attendee caused his own injuries by failing to keep a careful lookout to avoid an open and obvious condition when he tripped on a raised electrical box.

William C. Carter filed his original complaint on Nov. 20, 2017 against City of Fairview Heights, Lake Contracting Inc. and M.C. Electric Inc. He later filed an amended complaint on April 17.

According to his complaint, Carter claims he attended a homecoming event at Moody Park in Fairview Heights on Aug. 11, 2017. As he was entering the park he became distracted by the guest band and other park attractions when he "caught his foot and stumbled" over a concrete electrical box lid. He allegedly fell to the ground, fracturing his humorous and injuring his shoulder.

Carter alleges Lake Contracting and M.C. Electric were contracted to install the concrete electrical boxes on the grounds of the park area and erected pavilions for the purpose of upgrading and improving the park for the general public.

The plaintiff alleges the defendants carelessly allowed the concrete lid of the electric box to remain more than five inches above the ground and covered by grass. He also claims they failed to warn gusts of the elevation or paint it with a color that would be recognizable, failed to cordon off the box, failed to level the lid with the ground and failed to cut the grass around the box so its condition could be exposed to guests.

Lake Contracting answered the complaint on July 13 through attorneys John Cunningham and Daniel Hasenstab of Brown & James PC in Belleville, denying liability.

In its affirmative defenses, Lake Contracting argues that it complied with the specifications provided to it and “was justified in relying upon the adequacy of the specifications because said specifications were not so obviously dangerous that no competent contract would follow them.”

The defendant also argues that any alleged injuries were the result of the plaintiff’s own contributory negligence by failing to keep a careful lookout and/or failing to exercise reasonable care while walking on the premises.

Further, the defendant alleges that if the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the existence of a dangerous condition, which Lake Contracting “strongly denies,” then the condition would have been open and obvious.

Any contributory condition would have also been “the result of either man-made or natural changes to the premises that were beyond the control of this Defendant and would have occurred long after this Defendant had finished its contracted-for work and had relinquished any control it may have had over the premises,” the answer states.

Carter filed an answer to Lake Contracting’s affirmative defenses on July 23 through attorney Paul Storment Jr. of Belleville. He denied each and every allegation.

M.C. Electric answered the complaint on June 5 through attorney David Simkins of Rynearson Suess Schnurbusch & Champion LLC in St. Louis, denying liability.

In its affirmative defenses, the defendant argues that Carter’s claims are barred by his own comparative fault.

On June 19, Carter answered M.C. Electric’s affirmative defenses, denying the allegations.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 17-L-692

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Organizations in this Story

Brown & James Paul M Storment, Jr Rynearson, Suess, Schnurbusch & Champion LLC

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