SCOTT et al.
FOREST ACRES FULL GOSPEL CHURCH et al.
P. J., COOMER and MARKLE, JJ.
Scott was severely injured when he fell through a skylight in
a building he was helping Forest Acres Full Gospel Church
("the Church") dismantle after the Church purchased
it from the Hospital Authority of Colquitt County ("the
Hospital"). Scott and his wife (collectively "the
Scotts") sued the Church and the Hospital for
negligence, vicarious liability, and loss of consortium,
along with punitive damages and attorney fees. The trial
court granted the Church's and the Hospital's motions
for summary judgment, on the ground that Scott had equal
knowledge of the danger when he went onto the
roof. The Scotts now appeal. After a thorough
review of the record, and for the reasons that follow, we
judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue of material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." OCGA § 9-11-56 (c). Our review of a trial
court's ruling on a motion for summary judgment is de
novo, and we review the evidence, and all reasonable
inferences, in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. See
Green v. Raw Deal, Inc., 290 Ga.App. 464, 465 (659
S.E.2d 856) (2008).
viewed, the record shows that the Butler Building ("the
building") on the Hospital's property was a metal
building constructed some time before 1981. The Hospital used
the building for storage, and it was the only building on the
property that had skylights. The skylights were fiberglass
and were not load-bearing. The maintenance staff never
cleaned or pressure washed the roof of the building, and
there were no guards around the skylights.
August 2014, the Hospital decided to sell the building to the
highest bidder. It solicited bids by e-mail, explaining that:
"The sale will require you to tear down and remove the
building . . . . [R]emoval must be completed by September
26." The Hospital did not consider the sale completed
until the removal occurred. The Church was the highest
bidder, paying around $3, 300.
preparation for the removal of the building, Church member
Chris Collier arranged to borrow a forklift from Scott. A
week before the deadline, the Church began removal of the
building. When Scott arrived with the forklift that morning,
he realized that the Church was unprepared to disassemble the
building; it did not have a plan or enough people on site to
do the work. Although no one from the Church asked him to
help, Scott volunteered because he had seen similar projects
done in the past and had worked with his contractor to
rebuild a shed at his home.
used that knowledge to help the Church remove the building.
Scott and other members of the Church walked around the
building on ground level and noticed there were skylights in
the roof. Scott heard someone mention that they would need to
be careful on the roof because of those skylights. Then,
based on Scott's advice, the workers removed the trim off
the building, the garage door, the walk-in door, and the
front of the building before heading up to the roof. Once on
the roof, they would remove the ridge cap and then take off
the sheet metal and skylights.
the Church's pastor stated he would go on the roof to
remove screws, Scott volunteered to go onto the roof with
Church member Chris Nix, and he suggested that the pastor
work the forklift. Scott and Nix discussed how far the
skylights were from the edge of the roof, and the placement
of the ridge cap running through the skylights, and they knew
that removing the ridge cap would involve working where the
skylights were located.
using safety harnesses or hard hats, the men used the
forklift to raise themselves to the top of the roof and then
began walking along the ridge cap to remove the screws. The
roof was dirty and weathered, and it appeared all the same
color to Scott; none of the skylights were marked or
visible. In addition, the skylights were flush
against the roof and matched the same pattern as the rest of
did not expect the skylights to run all the way up the roof
to the ridge cap, and he was paying attention to the screws
as he walked. He and Nix removed the first section of the
ridge cap and, as they started on the next section, Scott
took several steps to the side. Nix yelled for Scott to look
out for the skylight, but Scott fell through a skylight onto
the concrete floor of the building, suffering severe
Scotts sued the Church and the Hospital in tort. Following
discovery, both defendants moved for summary judgment,
arguing that they owed no duty to Scott because he was a
licensee, and that even if they owed a duty, Scott had equal
knowledge of the danger and failed to exercise ordinary care
for his own safety, and that he assumed the risk of injury.
trial court granted summary judgment to the Church and the
Hospital, finding that Scott had equal knowledge of the risk
because he knew the skylights were on the roof and that he
failed to exercise ordinary care for his own
safety. The Scotts now appeal.
related enumerations of error, the Scotts argue that summary
judgment was improper because (1) Scott was an invitee of
both the Church and the Hospital; (2) as an invitee, the
Hospital owed him a duty to exercise ordinary care to make
the roof safe; (3) there remain factual questions regarding
his knowledge of the skylights and his assumption of the risk
that make summary judgment improper; and (4) the ...