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Collings v. Lords

November 6, 2009

JOSHUA KENT COLLINGS, APPELLANT (PLAINTIFF),
v.
ALAN LORDS, APPELLEE (DEFENDANT).



Appeal from the District Court of Uinta County The Honorable Dennis L. Sanderson, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hill, Justice.

Before VOIGT, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1] Alan Lords hired Joshua Collings to assist him in restoring an older home. Collings was injured while using Lords' table saw. Collings filed a complaint, alleging negligence on the part of Lords. The district court granted summary judgment for Lords, and we affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Collings states the single issue as follows:

Did the District Court err in granting summary judgment and concluding that no genuine issue of material fact existed that Lords' negligence was not a cause of Collings' injuries?

Lords phrases the issue slightly differently:

Did the District Court err when it found there was no material question of fact that existed upon which to find a causal connection between Lords' alleged negligence and Collings' injuries?

FACTS

[¶3] In 2002, Alan Lords bought a home to restore. He hired Joshua Collings to help him in that process. In November of 2003, as he was making window frames for the house, Collings suffered a serious injury*fn1 to the index finger and thumb of his left hand while using Lords' table saw to make a "dado" cut through a piece of wood.*fn2 Collings happened to be alone when his accident happened, but testified that a "test board" became bound in or on the dado blades and a kickback occurred, essentially throwing Collings' hand into the dado blades.

[¶4] Collings filed a negligence action against Lords on September 6, 2006. On April 10, 2008, Lords filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and asserted that he owed no legal duty regarding Collings' safety, due to Collings' status as an independent contractor; or, if a legal duty existed, one was not breached, and Lords committed no act which would constitute a proximate cause of Collings' injuries. Collings opposed Lords' motion, and the parties eventually argued the motion at the pretrial conference. An order granting Lords' Motion for Summary Judgment was entered August 20, 2008, noting that the "dispositive issue is whether [Collings] has met his burden of showing any material fact exists that establishes the causation element of his negligence claim." The court concluded that Collings showed "no facts establishing the element of causation." Additional facts will be set out below as necessary.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶5]We recently stated our oft-repeated standard of review when reviewing an order granting summary judgment:

We evaluate the propriety of a summary judgment by employing the same standards and using the same materials as the district court. Cook v. Shoshone First Bank, 2006 WY 13, ¶ 11, 126 P.3d 886, 889 (Wyo.2006). Thus, our review is plenary. Birt v. Wells Fargo ...


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