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Fryer v. Kranz

South Dakota Supreme Court
616 N.W.2d 102 (2000)


Facts

Clint Kranz (defendant), a contractor, was hired to remodel a building and convert it into a casino. To do so, Kranz employed a number of workers, including Kathy Fryer (plaintiff). Fryer’s job was to use muriatic acid to remove grout and other residue from the ceramic tile floors. Muriatic acid, also called hydrochloric acid, is a strong and highly corrosive chemical that can cause serious health problems if not used correctly. The product’s label warned that for proper use the acid should be diluted and used in exterior places only. However, the warnings were not readable when Fryer took possession of the acid. To show Fryer how to clean the tile, Kranz poured the undiluted acid directly onto the interior tile floor and said, “this is how we use it.” Despite having used the product several times before, Kranz did not warn Fryer about any of the dangers. Fryer was instructed to wear protective gloves and a small oscillating fan was positioned nearby to circulate the air. For four weeks Fryer regularly used the acid, feeling nauseated, light-headed, and had difficulty breathing. As a result of her exposure to the acid, Fryer was subsequently admitted to the hospital for treatment. Fryer filed a personal injury suit against Kranz seeking damages for her ongoing health problems due to her exposure to the acid. Kranz filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Fryer’s claim was required to be resolved through a workers’ compensation process. The trial court disagreed and denied Kranz’s motion, concluding that there were issues of fact on whether Kranz committed an intentional tort by exposing Fryer to the acid. Kranz appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Miller, C.J.)

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