Co-author Darien Harris
The Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, Chapter 95, limits a property owner’s liability when an independent contractor hired to construct, repair, renovate or modify an improvement to the owner’s property brings a negligence claim that arises “from the condition or use of the improvement.” The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the property owner is free from liability when negligence elsewhere contributes to the plaintiff’s injuries. But the contributing negligence must involve the condition or use of the improvement on which the plaintiff was working.
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In Energen Res. Corp. v. Wallace, Energen hired Nabors and New Prospect to drill an oil well in Pecos County. Energen contracted Dubose Drilling to complete a water well that would assist the oil well drilling operation. Dubose subcontracted with Elite Drillers to complete the water well. Elite’s president, Wallace, supervised the water well project. Because the wells were only 500 feet from each other, Energen and Elite more or less worked side-by-side.
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