Window Company Not Liable for Driver Injuries Sustained During UnloadingAugust 10th, 2023 by Joshua Huff
U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken ruled in favor of Jeld-Wen Inc., putting to rest the lawsuit brought against it three years ago by Crete Carrier Corp. driver Gary Groeneweg.
Groeneweg filed suit against the door and window company in 2020 under the Oregon Safe Employment Act and the Oregon Employer Liability Law, seeking to hold Jeld-Wen liable for injuries he sustained during an incident while unloading a Jeld-Wen delivery.
At the time, Jeld-Wen filed a motion to dismiss, one part of which was later upheld, and in January 2023 the door and window manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment.
Groeneweg claimed in his suit that he was struck in the head while unloading a stack of windows. He stated that the batch of 40 windows he was carrying shifted, striking him in the head and knocking him to the ground. While on the ground, another window dropped on him as PB Supply employees pulled him out.
He was transported to the hospital and diagnosed with a broken neck and a laceration to his head. According to the suit, this wasn’t the first injury Groeneweg suffered delivering Jeld-Wen windows. Six months prior, he slipped while unloading, and windows fell on him. He filed a workers’ compensation claim following the incident.
Jeld-Wen has maintained that Groeneweg, who worked for Crete Carrier Corp., was not a Jeld-Wen employee. Jeld-Wen had a contract with Crete for delivery of windows from Bend, Ore., to Professional Builder’s Supply in North Carolina at the time of the incident.
In an opinion dated August 7, 2023, Judge Aiken ruled that Jeld-Wen is entitled to summary judgment and dismissed Groeneweg’s claims. Aiken wrote that Jeld-Wen is not liable for Groeneweg’s injuries because the shipping company was hired to perform the service. Aiken added that Jeld-Wen did not own the trailer nor control the trailer’s unloading, which was Crete’s responsibility.
“The work involving risk or danger is the unloading of the trailer,” Aiken wrote in her decision. “With respect to the second factor, there is no evidence that [Jeld-Wen] had the legal right to control the unloading process or that they retained that right or power to do so. Rather, the evidence is that decisions concerning how the windows would be unloaded from the trailer were made by the employees of PB Supply and by Crete through [Groeneweg]. The Court concludes that [Jeld-Wen] did not control or have a right to control the manner or method by which the trailer was unloaded.”