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Horak v. Reames and Son Construction Co., Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division

September 30, 2014

GEORGE J. HORAK, III and CLIMATE ENGINEERS, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
REAMES AND SON CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

HUGH LAWSON, Senior District Judge.

This case is before the Court on Defendant's Re-Stated Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 25. For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies the motion.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff George J. Horak, III ("Horak", an employee of Climate Engineers, Inc. ("Climate Engineers", arrived at Defendant Reames and Son Construction Company, Inc.'s ("Reames" facility on January 10, 2012, to perform requested welding services. (Doc. 23, ¶¶ 7-8. In order to complete the welding project, Horak required use of a stable platform. (Doc. 23, ¶ 9. Reames employees erected a platform that they represented as safe for Horak's purpose. (Doc. 23, ¶ 10. The platform subsequently failed, causing Horak to fall in excess of twenty feet and to suffer extensive personal injuries. (Doc. 23, ¶¶ 11-12.

As a result of the fall, Horak sustained fractures to his femoral head, left thigh, left/right rib, cervical and thoracic spine, and left wrist. (Doc. 23, ¶ 13. He also injured his left shoulder and back. (Doc. 23, ¶ 13. Climate Engineers paid and continued to pays Horak workers' compensation benefits under Iowa law. (Doc. 23, ¶ 14.

Horak and Climate Engineers initiated this action against Reames on January 10, 2014, alleging that Reames and its employees negligently constructed the platform from which Horak fell and that their negligence was the proximate cause of Plaintiffs' injuries and damages. (Doc. 1. Reames filed an Answer and Motion to Dismiss on March 14, 2014. (Docs. 5, 6. Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint by leave of Court on May 9, 2014. (Doc. 23. On May 30, 2014, Defendant filed its Re-Stated Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 25, which is now before the Court.

II. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

When examining a motion to dismiss, the court shall accept "all well-pleaded facts... as true, and the reasonable inferences therefrom are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bryant v. Avado Brands, Inc. , 187 F.3d 1271, 1273 n. 1 (11th Cir. 1999. The court must dismiss the complaint if, "on the basis of a dispositive issue of law, no construction of the factual allegations will support the cause of action." Marshall Cnty. Bd. of Educ. v. Marshall Cnty. Gas Dist. , 992 F.2d 1171, 1174 (11th Cir. 1993 (citing Executive 100, Inc. v. Martin County , 992 F.2d 1536, 1539 (11th Cir. 1991 and Bell v. Hood , 327 U.S. 678, 682 (1946. Accordingly, to avoid dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b(6, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007.

III. ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs raise a single cause of action against Defendant for negligence. Plaintiffs allege that upon undertaking the construction of the welding platform, Defendant and its employees had a duty to build a safe structure. As a result of Defendants' failure to create a platform fit for the purpose of completing the welding task and to warn Horak of the hazardous condition, Horak sustained extensive physical injuries. Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b(6 and 12(c, arguing that Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Defendant owed them a duty. Defendant further moves to dismiss this action on the premise that Climate Engineers has failed to plead facts sufficient to establish its subrogation rights under Iowa law and that Plaintiffs have failed to join an indispensable party under Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(b.

A. Negligence Claim

Accepting the facts as plead by Plaintiffs as true, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' Complaint contains sufficient factual matter to support a plausible negligence claim. Georgia law provides that "[w]here an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises... safe." O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant invited Horak onto the premises to complete a welding job. In order to perform the requested task, Horak required use of a platform, which Defendant agreed to build. Defendant's employees represented to Horak that the platform was safe. The platform subsequently failed while in use by Horak. As a result, Horak fell a great distance and suffered numerous injuries for which Plaintiffs now seek to recover.

Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs fail to plead a basis for any duty owed by Defendant to Plaintiffs. Specifically, Defendant claims that Plaintiffs have not shown that there is a relationship between "the owner" (Reames and the one entering' (Horak" or why Defendant had a duty to construct a platform (Doc. 25-1, p. 6. The Complaint clearly sets forth the premise for the relationship: Reames required the skill of a welder and invited Horak, as an employee of Climate Engineers, onto the property to conduct the necessary work. In order to fulfill the work order, Horak needed a platform. Defendant then agreed to build the appropriate structure from whence Horak could weld. Whether the invitation onto the property and the building of the platform arose as a result of a contractual relationship between Plaintiffs and Defendant or with a third party and whether Plaintiffs' relationship with the third party somehow impacts Defendant's duty to ...


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