Stolen bulldozer used to destroy house; construction company not liable

Ohio's 7th District Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a construction company that left a bulldozer unsecured was not liable to homeowners when an unknown person stole it and bulldozed their house. The court found that this was a simple negligence case under Ohio law requiring a duty to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, harm that was caused by the breach and damages. The court held that the theft of the bulldozer was a superseding act that cut off liability for the defendants. The court distinguished Fed. Steel & Wire Corp. v. Ruhlin Const. Co., a 1989 Ohio Supreme Court case, stating that the Court found a duty for a construction company to take extra measures to secure its job site, but only because it was "reasonably foreseeable to the construction company that ... vandalism would occur" based on repeated previous acts of vandalism. In order to hold the company liable for damages resulting from the criminal actions of others, there had to be a "special duty" established by the foreseeability of the crime. The court found that plaintiffs made no showing or claims of this special duty and upheld the dismissal of the case.

For more information about this case, see this article from Court News Ohio.

Photo Credit: Marcus Qwertyus via Wikimedia Commons.