Summary Judgment Affirmed by U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

On June 12, 2014, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment obtained by Steven W. Quattlebaum, E. B. (Chip) Chiles IV, and R. Ryan Younger for American Greetings Corporation in a negligence action brought by employees of an electrical utility.  The plaintiffs claimed that American Greetings was liable for severe arc-flash burns they sustained while working on a transformer owned by American Greetings.  The plaintiffs claimed damages in excess of $30,000,000.00.  American Greetings moved for summary judgment on the ground that it had no duty to warn plaintiffs of the risk of arc flash because the risk was a known and inherent danger of plaintiffs’ electrical work.  American Greetings further argued that plaintiffs could not use federal, state, and industry regulations to expand the common law to create a duty.  The Court agreed with American Greetings, holding that, as a matter of law, “American Greetings owed no duty to warn plaintiffs of the danger of an arc flash or to otherwise ensure that plaintiffs avoided that danger because it was a known danger inherent in the electrical work plaintiffs were hired to perform.”