Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff and inmate at Defendant’s facility was instructed to work outside with a yard crew. The yard crew manager told her to clear the sidewalks with the snowblower. The yard crew manager gave her brief instructions on how to the use device. While using the snowblower, Plaintiff lost three of her fingers. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant contending Defendant negligently trained its employees and Defendant’s employee’s failed to supervise her.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Pursuant to Ohio law, when a plaintiff also contributes to a negligence cause of action, even though it is to a lesser extent, the defendant’s liability is reduced.
Lesa Hunt, Plaintiff, an inmate at Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation & Correction, Defendant, wasplaced to work outside with a yard crew. Carl Jenkins was the officer that was managing the yard crew. Jenkins told Plaintiff to clear the sidewalks with a snowblower. However, Plaintiff and Jenkins had never used a snowblower before. Yet, Jenkins instructed Plaintiff for about ten minutes on how to use the snowblower, based on training Jenkins received a week earlier from Woody Meyers, the head of the maintenance department. Moreover, Meyers specifically told Jenkins that whenever the blower would get clogged, Jenkins should activate the “Power Take Off” (PTO) switch. Thereafter, the engine should be completely shut down with the use of a key, and the clog should be cleared with water or some other device, but certainly not one’s hand. While Plaintiff was using the snowblower, the snowblower became clogged. Plaintiff put the PTO switch into the off position, thinking that it would turn off the power power. However, parts of the blower was still turned on and it continued to spin. After evaluating the chute, Plaintiff placed her gloved hand inside the snowblower and it began to clear snow. Subsequently, the machine caught the glove and pulled it down. Three of Plaintiff’s fingers were injured, causing her to lose those three fingers.Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligently training and supervising her.
Whether a Defendant’s liability is reduce in a negligence action against a Plaintiff when the Plaintiff is also negligent, even though Plaintiff was negligent to a lesser extent than Defendant.
Yes, a Defendant’s liability is reduce in a negligence action against a Plaintiff when the Plaintiff is also negligent, even though Plaintiff was negligent to a lesser extent than Defendant.
Where a prisoner also performs labor for the state, the duty owed by the state must be defined in the context of those additional factors which characterize the particular work performed.View Full Point of Law
After being presented with all the evidence, the court found that Defendant was 60% at fault for Plaintiff’s injuries. A state is deemed to be negligent when it failed to protect its inmates from unreasonable harm, thus, breaching its duty of care. In this case, Defendant was required to properly train and warn Plaintiff about the use of the snowblower and the danagers of unclogging a snowblower. Further, Plaintiff’s belief that if she turned the PTO switch to “off,” ot would shut down the blower completely was not unreasonable. Defendant was negligent in failing to instruct Plaintiff fully of the dangers of the device. Thus,under Ohio’s comparative negligence statute, a defendant liable for negligence only when the defendant was more than 50 percent responsible for the injury. While the court found that Hunt was 40 percent responsible for her injuries, Defendant is still liable for 60 percent of the damages.