Glassman, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox, PC, a Memphis, Tennessee civil litigation firm, regularly assists businesses with litigation help. The Firm was retained to represent an apartment complex and its management company and achieved a full dismissal of its client in a Premises Liability wrongful death lawsuit.
A security guard company provided armed security guard services for the subject premises. During a confrontation, a third party shot and killed a security guard at the premises. The widow filed a negligence action against the apartment complex owner and management company, claiming that they had a duty to provide a reasonably safe working environment for the decedent. Lacey Bishop, an Attorney with the Firm, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that the plaintiff could not make out the duty element of the negligence cause of action. Tennessee law provides an exception to the general rule that landowners must provide a reasonably safe working environment for independent contractors: if the independent contractor is injured by a risk inherent in the job duties, there is no duty owed.
The public policy considerations behind the exception recognize that an independent contractor is hired for his or her expertise, and therefore, it only makes sense to place the duty for the harm on the expert contractor and not the landowner who has hired that contractor for his or her expertise. Tennessee has recognized this exception and applied it to situations such as a roofer falling from a ladder while repairing a roof and an electrician being electrocuted. Tennessee has yet to deal with this exception in the realm of security guard services. The decedent in our case was providing the exact security services for which the plaintiff alleged were negligently lacking. The Court held that the independent contractor exception applied to the facts presented in this case and granted the Motion for Summary Judgment for our clients.
Glassman, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox, PC is a civil litigation firm with more than forty years of experience in helping its clients in a variety of civil litigation needs, including the defense of premises owners in premises liability cases. The Firm’s attorneys are licensed in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Virginia.