Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CV-11-6031
Markus C. Yira, Yira Law Office, Ltd., Hutchinson, Minnesota (for appellants)
Janet Stellpflug, Amy Mahowald, Aafedt, Forde, Gray, Monson & Hager, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Bjorkman, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Kirk, Judge.
The features of a basic-oversight relationship between a general construction contractor and one of its subcontractors does not create the kind of "common enterprise" under Minnesota Statutes section 176.061, subdivisions 1–4, that bars a negligence action against the general contractor by a subcontractor's employee who received workers' compensation benefits for injuries sustained on the construction site.
Joshua LeDoux, a laborer employed by construction subcontractor Northland Concrete & Masonry Company, was seriously injured when he fell through an unmarked hole in a roof of a commercial building being built under the direction of general contractor M.A. Mortenson Company. LeDoux appeals from the district court's summary judgment dismissing his personal-injury lawsuit against Mortenson. Because the district court erred when it held that the undisputed facts established as a matter of law that Northland and Mortenson were engaged in a "common enterprise" under Minnesota Statutes section 176.061, subdivisions 1–4 (2010), we reverse and remand.
Joshua LeDoux worked for subcontractor Northland on a construction project for general contractor Mortenson. A Mortenson employee kept a general project schedule and met daily with Northland's foreman about it. In December 2010, LeDoux was assigned to assist his foreman building a parapet on the building's snow-covered roof. The two workers got most of the necessary equipment and material from Northland's yard and they kept their own toolbox on the site, but they borrowed a safety device from Mortenson, and a Mortenson employee instructed LeDoux how to use it. LeDoux saw other Mortenson employees on the roof performing unrelated work unknown to him.
LeDoux was building scaffolding on the snowy roof when he fell through a hole that had been covered only with a sheet of light, easily breakable material. The fall seriously injured LeDoux. He received workers' compensation benefits from Northland, but he sued Mortenson, alleging that his fall resulted from its negligent failure to warn him about the hole.
Mortenson moved the district court for summary judgment, arguing that, under Minnesota Statutes section 176.061, subdivisions 1–4 (2010), the common-enterprise doctrine barred LeDoux from obtaining damages from Mortenson after he elected workers' compensation benefits through Northland. The district court granted the motion and dismissed LeDoux's complaint.