H.B. Neild and Sons seeks summary judgment in suit over scaffold collapse at cathedral

David Yates Dec. 21, 2010, 3:00am

Arguing that it is not responsible for how an independent contractor controls a worksite, defendant H.B. Neild and Sons recently filed a no-evidence motion for summary judgment.

In January, plaintiffs Clifton Davis and Robert Moore filed suit against H.B. Neild, claiming they were injure while working on a scaffold at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica in Beaumont.

In their suit, the two men claim that on Jan. 26, 2009, H.B. Neild instructed their employer, BETCO Scaffolding, to remove two of the scaffold's supporting legs, causing it to collapse.

"H.B. Neild directed that two of the four supporting legs of the scaffold be removed," the suit states. "This placed the scaffold in an unsafe, dangerous, and hazardous condition, which led to its collapse while the Plaintiffs were on it."

H.B. Neild filed its motion for summary judgment on Dec. 14, asserting the plaintiffs have failed to produce evidence showing the company breached its duty to provide a safe workplace.

"The prevailing case law in Texas establishes that a general contractor does not have a duty to ensure that an independent contractor performs work in a safe manner," the motion states.

"H.B. Neild will establish ... that is did not retain control over Betco or its employees' work, and therefore owed no duty to plaintiffs."

The plaintiffs seek damages for their incurred medical costs, physical pain, suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment and lost earnings.

James E. Payne, Jennifer Job Seale and Kendall Cockrell of Provost and Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont represent them.

H.B. Neild is represented by Sugar Land attorney Randy Fairless of Johanson and & Fairless.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, is presiding over the case.

Case number A185-788


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