Taulbee v. Adience, Inc., BMI Division (employer intentional tort)

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas; Tenth Appellate District

Palmer proves that a laborer's injuries during a fall resulted from the employer knowingly requiring employees to work in unsafe conditions.

BMI worker, Terry M. Taulbee, suffered serious injuries in a fall from scaffolding while freeing debris from the interior walls of Gavin Nuclear Power Plant's plenum, a tall, hourglass structure. Due to the plenum's height, the job required several levels of scaffolding. However, Taulbee's supervisor ordered his crew to remove some scaffolding boards to make it easier for the debris to fall and to allow some employees using jackhammers to sit while doing their job. In addition to dangerous gaps in scaffolding, lights in the plenum would go out without warning causing pitch-black conditions. The workers were not issued safety harnesses, safety belts or lanyards. Taulbee's supervisor was aware that the conditions were unsafe. American Electric Power, which owns Gavin, had cited the company for these safety violations, employees complained to their supervisor and several workers suffered falls or near falls. Instead of having the situation corrected, employees were ordered to "freeze" during the outages. But when the lights went out as Taulbee was in mid-stride on the scaffolding, he lost his footing and fell. Palmer successfully argued that BMI committed an employer intentional tort because it knowingly required workers to continue working under unsafe conditions.