Loweke v. Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition, Co., LLCAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff Richard Loweke was an employee of an electrical subcontractor. Defendant Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition Company was also a subcontractor. Both parties were hired for work on a construction project at the Detroit Metro Airport. Plaintiff was injured at the site when several cement boards fell on him. Defendant's employees placed the boards against the wall. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it owed Plaintiff no duty that was "separate and distinct" from the contractual duties it owed to the general contractor. The trial court granted Defendant's motion, and the appellate court affirmed the trial court. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Plaintiff argued that Defendant had a common-law duty to avoid physical harm to others from its own actions. Upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts' decisions. The Court found that the trial and appeals courts misinterpreted Michigan law with respect to "duty." The Court held that the assumption of contractual obligations does not limit the common law tort duties owed to others in the performance of the contract. The Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.