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Schaff v. Snapping Shoals Elec. Mbrshp. Corp.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 18, 2014

SCHAFF et al.
v.
SNAPPING SHOALS ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORPORATION

Reconsideration denied December 4, 2014 -- Cert. applied for.

Page 808

Negligence. Newton Superior Court. Before Judge Ozburn.

Terry D. Jackson, for appellants.

McNatt, Greene & Peterson, Hugh B. McNatt, Scrudder, Bass, Quillian, Horlock, Taylor & Lazarus, William W. Horlock, Jr., David C. Rhodes, for appellee.

DOYLE, Presiding Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Boggs, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 809

Doyle, Presiding Judge.

Casey Schaff was injured when a guy wire came loose and struck him while he was working on a utility pole installed, owned, and maintained by Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation (" SSEMC" ). Casey and his wife, Sherri Schaff, sued SSEMC, asserting claims for negligence, negligence per se, and loss of consortium. [330 Ga.App. 162] SSEMC moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted it. The Schaffs appeal that ruling, and we affirm for the following reasons.

We review a grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing the evidence, and all reasonable conclusions and inferences drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. A defendant demonstrates entitlement to summary judgment by showing that the record lacks evidence sufficient to create a jury issue on at least one essential element of the plaintiff's case. The defendant does not need to affirmatively disprove the plaintiff's case, but may prevail simply by pointing to the lack of evidence. If the defendant does so, the plaintiff cannot rest on his pleadings, but must point to specific evidence that gives rise to a triable issue of fact. [1]

Viewed in favor of the Schaffs, the record shows Casey was employed as a field auditor for Charter Communications, a cable company. As such, Casey checked cable connections at various locales, and he sometimes had to climb utility poles using a ladder to check cable connections thereon. Charter provided mandatory training regarding how to properly climb the poles. On December 6, 2007, approximately seven months after beginning work with Charter, Casey was dispatched to a utility pole in Henry County to disconnect service. After visually inspecting the pole and the ladder and verifying that " everything looked good," Casey attached his safety harness and began climbing. After he reached the top of the pole, a guy wire from the pole snapped and hit him, causing him to fall from the ladder. Casey suffered a fractured back and a concussion, and he also injured his jaw and hip.

SSEMC installed the utility pole involved in this case in April or May of 2007. It is undisputed that the guy wire that allegedly snapped and struck Casey was installed, owned, and maintained by Charter, Casey's employer.[2]

The Schaffs filed their initial lawsuit against SSEMC on December 7, 2009. They dismissed their initial action without prejudice on June 22, 2011, and refiled this action on December 15, 2011, asserting claims for negligence, negligence per se, and loss of consortium. [330 Ga.App. 163] SSEMC filed a motion for summary judgment, and the trial court granted it, finding that (a) the Schaffs' negligence claim failed because they failed to establish a duty, breach, or causation; (b) the Schaffs failed to support their negligence claim by specifying which statutes SSEMC allegedly violated; and (c) Sherri's loss of consortium claim failed as a derivative claim. This appeal followed.

1. The Schaffs argue that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to SSEMC on Casey's ...


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