Chatman v. Strafford CountyAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff Dana Chatman appealed a superior court order that dismissed his negligence claims against Defendant Paul Giampa, and his respondeat superior claim against Defendants Strafford County and the Strafford County Department of Corrections. Plaintiff was participating in a work program run by the Corrections Department, under the direct supervision of Giampa. Giampa directed Plaintiff and others to load numerous tables and chairs onto a trailer. The trailer was not yet hitched to another vehicle, and not situated on even ground. Giampa directed Plaintiff and the others to lift the trailer and hitch it to a pickup truck when a weld on the trailer jack/hitch failed, causing the trailer to fall on Plaintiff's left leg and ankle. Plaintiff sustained permanent injury to his leg and ankle. The trial court agreed with the defendants that the plaintiff's claims did not fall within the scope of RSA 507-B:2 because the truck and trailer were not being "operated" at the time of the loading/hitching, and declined to find that RSA 507-B:2 was unconstitutional. Upon review, the Supreme held "that the entire range of activities inherent in the loading and unloading process must be considered to determine whether a vehicle was being operated" and that "[o]peration includes participation in loading and unloading activities." The Court reversed the trial court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.