Tata v. Benjamin Muskovitz Plumbing and Heating

94 N.W.2d 71, 354 Mich. 695 (1959)

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Tata v. Benjamin Muskovitz Plumbing and Heating

Michigan Supreme Court
94 N.W.2d 71, 354 Mich. 695 (1959)

Facts

Gerardo Tata was performing work for Benjamin Muskovitz Plumbing and Heating (Muskovitz) (defendant) at the time of his death. In March 1956, Muskovitz was contacted by a property owner to clear out a sewer. Muskovitz contacted Tata to physically perform the job, and he agreed. When Tata could not clear the sewer, he advised Muskovitz a new sewer would need to be installed. Muskovitz contracted with the owner to install a new sewer and hired Tata to dig a trench for the sewer. There was no written contract, but Tata and his helper were to be paid hourly for the work. Muskovitz provided material for the work, but Tata hired a power shovel to perform the job. Muskovitz directed Tata where to dig a trench, obtained permits from the city, and advised Tata that it was an emergency job due to flooding. Tata was instructed to work until completion. However, while working, the side of the trench caved in on Tata, and he was killed. Angeline Tata (plaintiff), Tata’s wife, filed for workers’-compensation benefits against Muskovitz and its insurer, State Accident Fund (SAF) (defendant). Angeline was awarded benefits. Muskovitz and SAF filed for review. The appeal board found that Tata and Muskovitz were in an employer-employee relationship. Muskovitz and SAF appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

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