Appeals Court Revives White Sox Injury Suit

A three judge-panel on an Illinois appeals court has revived a negligence/product liability suit by a former electrician against the Chicago White Sox.

The suit arose from an incident in which plaintiff Thomas Zahumensky, an electrician, slipped and fell on wet polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, while repairing the scoreboard in the field on which the White Sox Play. The field, which is now known as Guaranteed Rate Field, was known as U.S. Cellular Field when he was injured in 2013. Zahumensky sued the White Sox, Bennett & Brousseau Roofing Inc., PVC manufacturer Sika Corp. and the Illinois Sports Facility Authority (ISFA), which owns the field, for negligence and product liability.

The lower court originally dismissed claims against the ISFA, and granted summary judgment for the other three defendants, holding that Sika had warned the roofing company that the PVC material was slippery when wet. Furthermore, the court held, Bennett was only installing the roof at the White Sox’s instruction, and thus had no duty to warn, and the White Sox were not aware that water had collected on the roof that day. The appeals court was not convinced.

The appeals court considered Zahumensky’s argument that the White Sox knew or should have known that lacking slip-resistant walkways was a dangerous condition that required remedy. Zahumensky also argued that there were questions of fact regarding whether Sika and Bennett sufficiently passed along information to the White Sox regarding the need to install walkways due to dangerously slippery conditions.

The appeals court affirmed summary judgment as to Sika, letting the manufacturer off the hook, as it met its obligations. However, the court agreed with Zahumensky that there were questions of fact regarding the communications between Sika and Bennet allegedly passed on to the White Sox. Thus, it is unclear if the White Sox had enough information to make an informed decision about the installation of the walkways.

Accordingly, the case was remanded to the trial court, where it will proceed to trial.

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