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Hamilton and Zaffiri Secure Summary Judgment in St. Louis County Case

Partner Kathleen Hamilton and associate attorney Brad Zaffiri recently secured a summary judgment for a client based on the “acceptance doctrine” [Joseph Zygler v. Hawkins Construction & Flat Work Contracting, Co., Inc., St. Louis County Circuit Court, Missouri; Case No.  16SL-CC00847]. Under the “acceptance doctrine,” acceptance by a general contractor of a subcontractor’s work relieves the subcontractor of liability as to a third person for personal injuries allegedly sustained as a result of the subcontractor’s work.

The immediate case involved an alleged trip and fall incident at a construction project site. Plaintiff alleged negligence against Hawkins Construction & Flat Work Contracting. However, the Court found that Hawkins had completed its work a full six months before Plaintiff’s incident. At the time Plaintiff was injured, the general contractor had already accepted Hawkins’ work and resumed control over the physical area. Because Hawkins had no control over the area in which Plaintiff suffered his injuries, and because the general contractor had both formally and as a matter of practicality accepted Hawkins’ work, Hawkins did not owe a duty to Plaintiff, and Plaintiff’s claim for negligence failed as a matter of law.

Both Hamilton and Zaffiri work in the firm’s St. Louis office and focus their practices on complex tort litigation, including premises liability.