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Chelcher v. Spider Staging Corp.

United States District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands
892 F.Supp. 710 (1995)


Chelcher (plaintiff), an employee of Industrial Maintenance Corporation, sustained permanently disabling damage to his lower back when he sandblasted the top of a spherical propane tank for a prolonged period of time atop a scaffold that was positioned at an awkward angle. The tank was owned by Hess Oil Virgin Islands. On the day of the incident, Chelcher climbed onto a movable, cage-like scaffold, or “spider,” manufactured by Spider Staging Corporation (Spider) (defendant) to perform the sandblasting. Chelcher had worked on a number of similar scaffolds during his career. However, the particular spider scaffold had been mis-rigged, causing the floor platform of the spider to tilt away from the tank. Even though Chelcher was aware of the mis-rigging, he nonetheless boarded the cage and performed sandblasting duties on the titled platform for approximately five hours. Chelcher filed suit against Spider, alleging a number of claims, including negligent failure to warn. Chelcher claimed that a pictogram depicting a man falling could easily have been placed on the spider scaffold to warn those ascending the structure. Each party filed a motion for summary judgment.

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