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Williams v. ALPLA, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Allen

June 12, 2017

RYAN WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ALPLA, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

         Appeal from Allen County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CV 2014 0530

          Tabitha L. Stewart for Appellant

          Andrew J. Wilhelms for Appellee

          OPINION

          WILLAMOWSKI, J.

         {¶1} Plaintiff-appellant Ryan Williams ("Williams") appeals the judgment of the Allen County Common Pleas Court for granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant-appellee, ALPLA, Inc. ("ALPLA"). For the reasons set forth below, the judgment of the lower court is affirmed.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} On August 24, 2013, Williams was employed by ALPLA and sustained a severe injury to his right arm while he was working at ALPLA. Id. According to Williams, ALPLA's SSB160 machine, which manufactures bottles, was not functioning properly during his shift. Doc. 70 at 28-29. Doc. 66 at 12. The bottles being processed by this machine were slipping off of the track and accumulating under the machine. Doc. 67 at 12-13. If too many bottles pile up in this area, the machine shuts down. Id. at 11-12. The area in which these bottles were accumulating can be accessed by opening a sliding plexiglass door on the side of the machine. Id. at 12. Williams claims that he had been trained to open this plexiglass door, reach inside this area of the SSB160, and gather the fallen bottles while the machine was still running. Id. at 52-53, 60-61. Williams tried to figure out what was causing the bottles to fall off of the track and tried several adjustments to correct this issue. Doc. 70 at 23. After several attempted fixes failed, Williams decided to check what he believed to be a photo eye that was located inside the compartment where the bottles were falling off of the track and accumulating under the machine. Id. . at 23-24.

         {¶3} To avoid a break in production, Williams chose not to shut off the machine while he opened the plexiglass access door and reached into the SSB160 machine to wipe down what he believed to be a photo eye sensor in that area of the machine.[1] Id. at 22. He, however, admitted that he could have shut down the machine before he put his arm inside the SSB160 as he was the supervisor in charge of the floor that evening. Id. at 27, 57. While he had previously reached into this machine to clear out bottles, this was the first time that Williams had ever attempted to wipe off this sensor. Id. at 24, 35. As he was attempting to service the SSB160, Williams's arm got caught in the machine, causing his injuries. Doc. 67 at 55. Doc. 70 at 28.

         {¶4} On August 21, 2014, Williams filed a complaint with the Allen County Common Pleas Court that named ALPLA as the defendant in an action brought under Ohio's employer intentional tort law. Doc. 1. On August 22, 2016, ALPLA filed a motion for summary judgment. Doc. 64. In this motion, ALPLA argued that Williams had not shown that ALPLA had breached any duty owed to Williams and that ALPLA was not, therefore, liable to Williams for damages. Id. On October 11, 2016, the trial court granted ALPLA's motion for summary judgment. Doc. 73. Williams filed a notice of appeal on November 7, 2016. Doc. 75. On appeal, he raises the following two assignments of error.

         First Assignment of Error

         The Common Pleas Court of Allen County, Ohio, erred in concluding that there were no genuine issues of material fact in this matter.

         Second Assignment of Error

         The Common Pleas Court of Allen County, Ohio, erred in concluding that Plaintiff failed to create a genuine issue of fact regarding the removal of a steel plate, a safety mechanism, from the SSB 160 machine.

         We will consider these assignments of error together as both address the trial ...


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