Sometimes accidents at work happen. But what happens when an accident could have been prevented by an employee? It is a common question to wonder whether an employer is still liable for the actions of an employee, especially in cases where a defect may be open and obvious. A Louisiana delivery driver confronted this very situation after he was injured on a loading dock.
Saia Motor Freight employee Ethan Rose was delivering to Doerle Food Services, LLC, in December 2010. Because the delivery was so large, a temporary bridge made of a metal docking plate, which extended from the truck and across the gap in the floor from the truck and the warehouse floor, was required to move it off of Rose’s truck and into Doerle Food Services’ warehouse. On December 22, the makeshift bridge did not lie flat, but instead had a bump where the flap hinged. The conditions on the bridge were also muddy and wet. As Rose tried to move a pallet of delivery goods over the bump and hinge, he fell onto the ground, injuring his neck and back.
Rose brought a lawsuit for damages from his injury against Doerle Food Services and its insurance company, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, eleven months later. In 2015, Doerle Food Services and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Rose could not prove there was an “unreasonable risk of harm” on the loading dock bridge plate because the defect was open and obvious.