Dear YouDig?

Dear YouDig?,

We are on fire this construction season. With the busy schedule comes a lot of pressure. Last week, during a hot afternoon stretch, one of our workers lost his head and beat the living hell out of a coworker. On our site. We don’t know why. The cops came. One guy went to the hospital. One guy went to jail (and was fired). Nobody saw this coming. Do we have exposure for this brawl?

-Dog Day Afternoon

Dear DDA,

Have you ever fantasized about taking a club to that one a**hole coworker that just grinds on your nerves? Of course you have. But you are a smart, reasonable, non-impulsive person and you realize that the consequences of beating the tar out of a coworker (regardless of what you think they deserve) will land you in jail. You like three square meals but you want to choose your own menu.

Until you bail out of the industry, and maybe even after, there is exposure. To determine the degree of exposure you must evaluate your knowledge of the situation. Did you know about the propensity for violence of the aggressor? If you knew, then what did you do about it? If you knew of a specific risk for an individual worker, what did you do to notify that worker at risk or to separate the two workers? Is there a union involved that can help with disciplinary action? Having two workers brawling is great for story-telling but not good for business. Make sure your supervisors are held accountable for working to know and understand the relationships in the field to maximize productivity. YouDig?


John Swansinger is the author and founder of YouDig and is a partner in Buckingham, Doolittle & Burrough, LLC‘s real estate and construction practice group. He works with contractors, developers and construction owners on construction law issues including construction contracts, commercial agreements, construction litigation, subcontractor issues, insurance liability, breach of contract and more. He can be reached at or 216.615.7356.

YouDig is an online resource that connects the construction community with vital issues affecting the industry and is a component of the business law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC that is specifically geared toward construction.