Trainor v. H.A. Maine & Co.

Decision Date30 September 1918
Docket Number30826
PartiesJ. F. TRAINOR, Appellant, v. H. A. MAINE & COMPANY et al., Appellees
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Appeal from Jasper District Court.--HENRY SILWOLD, Judge.

ACTION for personal injuries. Three defendants are charged with joint liability as for concurring negligence. At the close of the evidence, each moved for a directed verdict, and each motion was sustained. Plaintiff appeals.-- Affirmed.


Ross R Mowry and W. G. Clements, for appellant.

Edwards Longley, Ransier & Smith, Miller & Wallingford, Oliver H Miller, E. J. Salmon, and C. O. McLain, for appellees.




I. The accident to the plaintiff occurred in a building which was in course of construction. While on the second floor of the building, the plaintiff, by some inadvertence, stepped "sideways and backwards" into an opening in the floor, whereby he was severely injured. This opening was an elevator well, in which an elevator was to be installed. It was enclosed on three sides. The plaintiff, at the time of his injury, was in charge of the execution of a contract by the General Fire Extinguisher Company, to install in said building, in the course of construction thereof, a fire extinguishing system. He, with certain helpers, had been engaged upon this work for several days prior to the accident, which occurred on the tenth day of his service. The three joint defendants are Maine & Company, Otis Elevator Company, and the Maytag Company. The Maytag Company was the owner of the property. Maine & Company was the building contractor which had entered into a contract with the owner for the construction of the building, and was engaged in such construction at the time of plaintiff's injury. The Otis Elevator Company had entered into a contract with the owner to install the elevators in such building. It also was engaged in the execution of such contract at the time of plaintiff's injury, and had been so engaged for four or five days. Maine & Company, Otis Elevator Company, and the Fire Extinguisher Company appear, therefore, to have been engaged, at the time of the accident, upon their respective contracts pertaining to said building. They also appear to have been working together harmoniously, each extending due consideration to the rights of the others. The building in course of construction was, in dimension, 200 feet by 80 feet, and four stories high. It was being constructed for manufacturing purposes. It had been fully enclosed, and covered with a roof. The building contractor had left three prominent openings in the floors. One was a large opening, near the center of the building, which was used for the operation of the hoisting machinery. This machinery was used for the lifting of material from the ground to the various floors. It belonged to the building contractor; but the right to use the same was extended to all the defendants and to the Fire Extinguisher Company, in the handling of their own material respectively, and the same was so used by each one. At the northwest corner of the building, a large elevator well was open, and extended through every floor. Farther east, and near the center of the north wall, a smaller elevator well was left, and this is the one into which the plaintiff fell. Its dimension was between 6 and 7 feet square. This well extended up to the third floor. The plaintiff was concededly familiar with the two larger openings. He testified, however, that he did not know of the smaller elevator well. The accident occurred in the daytime. The building was exceptionally well lighted. Windows upon this floor, 5 feet by 3 feet, 18 inches apart, were placed for the entire length thereof on each side. The charge of negligence against the defendants, as made in the petition, is very general. It is that the opening was left unguarded. It is charged generally that it was the duty of every one of the defendants to guard such opening, and that, therefore, each was negligent in failure to do so. Apart from this general charge, there does not appear, either in the petition or in the evidence, any particular fact tending to show negligence on the part of any defendant. The case is argued here by the appellant largely upon its general merits. The argument is made to rest upon the broad proposition that these defendants, being jointly in charge of this building, were bound to maintain the same in a reasonably safe condition for every other person who might lawfully enter upon it. It is further argued...

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