Pugh V Butler Telephone Company Essay

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HOUSTON, JUSTICE This is an appeal by the plaintiffs, the surviving parents and the estate of Johnnie Carl Pugh, from a summary judgment in favor of the defendants, Butler Telephone Company, Inc., Bay Springs Telephone Company, Inc., Telephone Electronics Corporation, and Joseph D. Fail, Engineering Company, Inc., in a wrongful death action. Pugh, an employee of Sandidge Construction Company ("Sandidge"), was killed while working in the line and scope of his employment when the sides of an excavation in which he was working caved in on top of him. There was at least a scintilla of evidence that the excavation in which Pugh was working at the time of his death was neither shored nor sloped and that it violated certain general safety standards. The excavation had been dug the day of Pugh's death by Sandidge, without knowledge of Butler Telephone Company ("Butler") or Joseph D. Fail Engineering Company, Inc. ("Fail"). Sandidge was under contract with Butler to "lay approximately 18 miles of telephone cable" in a rural area. This was a system that had been approved by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Electrification Administration (REA). Butler's contract with Sandidge was an REA contract. Fail was the engineer whose responsibility it was to ensure the expeditious and economical construction of the project in accordance with approved plans and specifications. Fail was not to exercise any actual control over Sandidge's employees. The engineering contract between Butler and Fail further provided that Fail's obligations "run to and are for the benefit of only" Butler and the REA administrator. The plaintiffs' issues for review relate only to the liability of Butler and Fail. There are three issues presented for review. The first issue is whether there is a scintilla of evidence to support a finding that Sandidge was an agent of Butler, which finding

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