U.S. District Court, WDNY
Duty of Care
Roberts v. Los Alamos National Security, LLC, et al.
Background: An employee of the University of Rochester brought an action seeking damages for serious injuries he received during an experiment with a High Yield Neutron Temporal Diagnostic, also known as the “light pipe.” While adjusting the pressure valve of the light pipe, it exploded, causing a support bracket to strike the plaintiff’s head and neck, rendering him a quadriplegic. The plaintiff received workers’ compensation benefits from the UR, but he brought an action against each of the non-UR “principle investigators” associated with the experiment. The UR and the defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that the UR was solely responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Ruling: The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The court found that the plaintiff could not demonstrate that the defendants had control over the installation, repair, maintenance, service, design, qualification (or lack thereof) or hands-on use of the light pipe. Further, the defendants did not supervise, direct or control the plaintiff, or otherwise assume a duty of care toward him.
Louis J. Micca for the plaintiff; Beryl Nusbaum and Greta Katrin Kolcon of Woods Oviatt Gilman for the defendant Los Alamos National Security; Christine Tramontano, Philip T. Evans, and Sean C. Sheely of Holland & Knight for the defendant AWE; David Rothenberg of Geiger and Rothenberg for the defendant Massachusetts Institute of Technology