Hixon v. Sherwin-Williams Co.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
671 F.2d 1005 (1982)
As part of a repair job for insured homeowners, American States Insurance Company (American States) (plaintiff) hired Marv Hixon (plaintiff) to install linoleum in the homeowners’ kitchen. Hixon subcontracted the work to Sherwin-Williams Company (defendant), which in turn hired Louis Benkovich (defendant) as an independent contractor to install the linoleum. Sherwin-Williams relied on Benkovich’s strong reputation for doing quality linoleum work and exercised no control over Benkovich’s performance of his assignment. However, the assignment proved unusual in that it involved laying plywood between the linoleum and the concrete subflooring. Benkovich had no experience with laying plywood or with plywood glue. Due to Benkovich’s failure to read warnings on the glue can’s label, he allowed dangerous glue fumes to build up. The kitchen stove’s pilot light ignited the fumes, setting off a fire that caused additional damage to the homeowners’ residence. Hixon and American States sued Sherwin-Williams on the theory that Sherwin-Williams was responsible for Benkovich’s negligence and better able than Benkovich to pay damages. A federal district court directed the jury’s verdict for Sherwin-Williams. Hixon and American States appealed to the Seventh Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)
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