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Essex County, NJ

The plaintiff, who was performing masonry work on a row house undergoing extensive renovations, contended that the defendant alleged general contractor was liable for improper scaffolding that was situated on a co-defendant’s roof during construction of the row house in an area that had very little room between structures. The plaintiff contended that the scaffold was defective because it had inadequate planking, had no guardrails or other fall protection and was unstable. The plaintiff contended that while working, he fell onto the co-defendant’s sloped roof and fell to the ground below. The plaintiff maintained that he suffered thoracic fractures requiring fusion surgery, closed head injuries that caused relatively mild deficits, shoulder and knee injuries that required surgeries and injury to his mouth and teeth.

The plaintiff contended that the primary defendant, Callaway’s Construction, was the G.C. and violated its duty of care by failing to ensure that its masonry subcontractor, the plaintiff’s employer, provided a safe workplace, adequate fall protection and an appropriate scaffold. The alleged G.C. denied that it was a general contractor in a traditional sense and maintained that it had simply coordinated work for the residential owner, denying that it had agreed to assume responsibility for the safety of the site. This defendant further argued that it had not been aware of the erection of the scaffold on the co-defendant neighbor’s roof.

The plaintiff countered that permitting documents and architectural drawings, referred to Callaway’s as the general contractor and plaintiff’s deposition testimony stated that scaffolding on the project had been erected in the same manner for months, without adequate planking, stability, guardrails, or other fall protection. The plaintiff would have contended that it was clear that the alleged general contractor’s denial of safety responsibility should be rejected and also clear that it was well aware of the hazardous condition. The plaintiff also maintained that the co-defendant neighbor, who permitted the dangerous scaffold to be situated on her roof, should be liable.

This co-defendant argued that she was a homeowner and that had no knowledge of construction methods or safety requirements. The plaintiff countered that a police report recorded a statement from this party where she purportedly admitted to giving permission for the scaffold to be placed on the roof. Additionally, the plaintiffs argued that a maintenance man used for the property, the co-defendant’s boyfriend, had previously attempted to have the workers removed from the roof because they did not have permission and the scaffolds were swaying in the breeze. There was considerable dispute as to actual or imputed knowledge to the co-defendant of the condition of scaffolds on her property, and whether the boyfriend could be considered an agent of hers, as well as whether she possessed any duty to warn a construction worker as to the dangerous nature of his work conditions.

The plaintiff maintained that he suffered thoracic fractures and required emergency fusion surgery. The plaintiff also contended that he sustained closed head injuries that left him with relatively mild cognitive deficits involving memory and concentration. The plaintiff further contended that he suffered injuries to both shoulders that required bilateral surgery, an ACL tear that necessitated reconstruction of the right knee, and trauma to his mouth and teeth.

The plaintiff made no income claims. The co-defendant neighbor moved for summary judgment and this motion was denied.The case against the alleged general contractor settled for $________ after binding arbitration with retired Judge Eugene Codey. The co-defendant neighbor settled for an additional $________ several months later and shortly before trial, yielding a total recovery of $________.

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