Argued: February 1, 2018
Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, P.A., of Dover
(Matthew B. Cox on the brief and orally), for the plaintiff.
Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC, of Manchester (Gary
M. Burt and Brendan D. O'Brien on the brief, and Mr. Burt
orally), for the defendants.
plaintiff, Steven Grady, appeals an order of the Superior
Court (Houran, J.) granting summary judgment to the
defendants, Jones Lang LaSalle Construction Company, Inc.
(Jones Lang), and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and
Liberty Mutual Group, Inc. (collectively, "Liberty
Mutual"), in this tort action for damages on the ground
that the defendants did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care
to provide supervision, training, or safety equipment. We
trial court set forth the following undisputed facts. In
2012, Liberty Mutual contracted with Jones Lang to complete a
construction project on premises owned by Liberty Mutual in
Dover (the general contract). In January 2013, Jones Lang
subcontracted the roofing work for the project (the
subcontract) to A&M Roofing and Sheet Metal Company, Inc.
(A&M). The plaintiff was an A&M employee when A&M
began working on the project.
February 21, 2013, which was a cold and windy day, the
plaintiff began to perform flashing and insulation work on
the roof. Prior to installing the insulation, the plaintiff
needed to clean dirt from the roofing membrane using a
cleaning solvent. He also needed to use a torch to melt ice
that was on the areas to be cleaned. The plaintiff testified
that a worker must wear rubber gloves and fire-proof leather
gloves to protect his hands from the cleaning solvent and the
torch's flame. He further testified that a striker is
used to light the torch.
provided an on-site job box, from which the plaintiff
obtained the following equipment and materials: flashing,
cleaner, primer, seam tape, caulking, rags, and a propane
torch. The plaintiff did not find rubber gloves, fire-proof
leather gloves, strikers, or any fire extinguishers in the
box. The plaintiff asked his A&M supervisor if there were
any gloves available, but his supervisor said there were none
at the site. The plaintiff did not see or talk to anyone from
Jones Lang or Liberty Mutual.
of the cold weather, the plaintiff wore cotton gloves to keep
his hands warm while he worked. After igniting the torch a
few times with a lighter without incident, he lit the torch
again as a gust of wind came, and the glove on his right hand
ignited. As a result, the plaintiff was injured.
thereafter, the plaintiff received workers' compensation
benefits from A&M for his injuries. In February 2016, he
brought the present action for negligence against the
defendants. In May 2017, the trial court granted summary
judgment to the defendants, ruling that they did not owe a
duty of care to the plaintiff. This appeal followed.
appeal, the plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in
granting summary judgment to the defendants. "In
reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, we consider the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and, if no genuine issue of
material fact exists, we determine whether the moving party
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Christen v. Fiesta Shows, Inc., 170 N.H. 372, 374-75
(2017). "We review the trial court's application of
the law to the facts de novo." Id.
plaintiff first argues that the trial court erred in granting
summary judgment to Jones Lang on the basis that it owed him
no duty of care.
recover for negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the
defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant
breached that duty, and that the breach proximately caused
injury to the plaintiff. Lahm v. Farrington, 166
N.H. 146, 149 (2014). "Absent a duty, there is no
negligence." Christen, 170 N.H. at 375.
"When charged with determining whether a duty exists in
a particular case, we necessarily encounter the broader, more
fundamental question of whether the plaintiff's interests
are entitled to legal protection against the defendant's
conduct." Lahm, 166 N.H. at 150 (quotation
omitted). "In making this determination, we consider
whether the societal importance of protecting the
plaintiff's interest outweighs the importance of