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Union County

The plaintiff contended that as he was assisting his friend, the defendant, he lost his footing and commenced sliding down the slanted roof, whereupon his feet contacted the wooden gutter which gave way, resulting in his falling onto a picket fence and suffering a severe puncture wound to the buttocks which penetrated seven inches and a fractured coccyx. The Court held that the plaintiff was an invitee as a matter of law. The plaintiff’s expert engineer contended that the defendant, who had previously replaced all other wooden gutters on the roof with aluminum, should have ascertained that the subject gutter was weak and should have replaced it as well. The plaintiff also contended that the defendant should have warned the plaintiff that the gutter was weak. The defendant contended that the gutter did not appear to be in need of replacement or repair and that it held water without leaking. The defendant further contended that the gutter could not be expected to hold the weight of a person.

The plaintiff’s expert contended that if it was in proper condition, the gutter could have prevented the fall and further maintained that since it is foreseeable that people will work on a roof and bring extra loads to bear on the gutter, it should have been stronger. The evidence revealed that with the exception of significant scarring on the buttocks, the wound healed. The plaintiff contended that he would permanently suffer pain as a result of the fractured coccyx. The jury found for the defendant.

Bogda vs. Staats. Docket no. L-________-88; Judge Melvin Whitkin, 4- 9-90. Attorney for plaintiff: Joseph Depa; Attorney for defendant: James D. Bride. Plaintiff’s general surgeon: S.J.

Panzerino from Short hills. Plaintiff’s expert engineer: Steven Schneider from Warren.

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