HARRISBURG (August 10, 2015) – Late last week, the National
Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center filed an amicus
brief in a case that would significantly broaden when small businesses could be
held liable for the conduct of an independent contractor diminishing
much of the benefits of hiring independent contractors.
century Pennsylvania law has allowed businesses to hire independent contractors
for their expertise and remain insulated from liability for injuries to the
contractor’s employees,” said Executive
Director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center, Karen Harned. “Any court
decision that etches away at that protection will result in fewer small
businesses being hired to perform work.
That would hurt jobs, business ownership and the overall Pennsylvania
At issue in
the case of Nertavich vs. PPL Electric
Utilities is whether property owners can be held responsible for injuries
suffered by independent contractors’ employees on a job site. An employee of an
independent contractor fell 40 feet while painting an electricity pole owned by
PPL Utilities Company. The painter
leaned back to paint a hard to reach section of the pole and his lanyard was
unhinged from the ladder causing him to fall.
The employee sued PPL on the basis that the company was negligible for
not equipping their pole with the proper securing measures for removable
ladders. A Pennsylvania Superior Court
ruled that PPL was not liable for the employees fall.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court has now agreed to review the Superior Court’s ruling
and NFIB is asking that they uphold the lower court’s decision.
filed this brief with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because businesses must
feel confident they will not be sued for something they have no control over when
they hire other companies to do work,” Harned continued “Small businesses need
those business contracts to survive and keep their workers employed.”
was filed by NFIB and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Pennsylvania’s Supreme
Court on Friday.