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Contractor Petitions for Federal Court

Due to the unique construction of our country, most lawsuits end up either in state or federal court. While that may seem like little more than semantics, the truth is that this distinction makes a big difference where lawsuits are concerned. Therefore, it’s not completely uncommon to have defendants ask for their cases to be moved to the federal level so they’re not automatically at the mercy of the laws of another state. That seems to be at the heart of a recent petition by a contractor in West Virginia.

The Precedent for Switching to Federal Court

In this case, the defendant who filed the petition is Danny Hukill Contracting. They filed this motion on February 18th in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Part of their filing includes citations that point out the claim is probably going to be for more than $75,000. That, alone, works in support of their plea, but so too does the fact that three of the defendants involved in this case live in other states.

At the moment, no ruling has been made regarding Danny Hukill Contracting’s plea. However, if it does move to federal court, the company may have a better shot at beating the case.

The Heart of the Matter

Originally, the lawsuit was brought before Brooke Circuit Court by Jeromy L. Higgs. The complaint he filed on January 15th alleged the defendants were liable for a personal injury. Aside from Danny Hukill Contracting, Consol Energy Inc., Hartman and Hartman Construction Inc. and CNX Gas Company LLC were also mentioned as defendants.

According to Jeromy Higgs, he was once employed by Hukill Contracting. His lawsuit mentions that on February 11th, 2014, he suffered injuries while under contract with them. Allegedly, a slip-and-fall injury occurred because of ice that had accumulated at the jobsite he was working on.

The suit demands that Hukill Contracting be held liable for their part in not providing a safe working environment for Higgs. Because they allegedly failed to do so, Higgs believes they should be held accountable for the multiple ruptured spinal discs he suffered, as well as nerve damage and some other injuries that will have permanent effects on him.

In his lawsuit, Higgs asks for a jury trial to decide if he is justified in demanding punitive and compensatory damages for pain and suffering, as well as medical expenses. The plaintiff is being represented by attorneys Patrick C. Booth and Eric T. Chaffin of Chaffin Luhana LLP based out of Weirton.

Danny Hukill Contracting is being represented by Donald J. McCormick from Dell, Moser, Lane and Loughney LLC. They’re based in Pittsburgh.

Slip and Fall Injuries

These are actually the most common form of workplace injuries. Sometimes, the injuries are caused by the actual slip and the fall that follows. However, it’s also fairly common for people to get hurt trying to catch their balance after the initial slip.

In any case, we won’t know for some time whether or not Mr. Higgs is justified in his lawsuit. While it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment, there is an extent to which a court will hold them accountable.

Likewise, the defendants may try to make the case that Higgs’ injuries were his own fault. Perhaps he was acting negligently by not wearing proper safety gear or following workplace rules.

A lot of times, these types of cases aren’t as cut and dried as they may seem at first. Given the relative locations of the parties involved, though, it would seem to make sense that the case will be taken up on the federal level.