Grefe & Sidney’s Mark Thomas and Laura Martino were successful in securing a Dismissal, through summary judgment, of an Iowa Code Section 85.20 gross negligence lawsuit brought against co-workers of a man who suffocated while working on a Manatts company truck. The deceased’s representatives filed suit pursuant to a statutory exception to the workers compensation exclusivity statute alleging that the decedent’s co-workers were grossly negligent and to that their conduct resulted in his death. The defendants filed for summary judgment alleging that discovery proved that each defendant was not grossly negligent.
The district court agreed with the defendants, ruling as a matter of law that “to establish defendants’ gross negligence in this case, the plaintiffs must prove:
- Knowledge of the peril to be apprehended;
- Knowledge that the injury is a probably as opposed to possible result of the danger;
- A conscious failure to avoid the peril.
The Court stated:
“There is no evidence that any of the defendants had actual knowledge of the danger posed by the confined space within the water tank. Even if the danger posed was obvious the plaintiffs provide no evidence that the defendants knew that the injury was probable, as opposed to possible. As defendants had no knowledge of the danger posed by the confined space in the water tank, they would also be unable to consciously avoid the peril proposed by the space.” Accordingly, the Court dismissed the claim.