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Essex County, NJ

This case involved a then 35-year-old plaintiff who was employed by a roofing company who was installing sheathing on the edge of a roof truss of multi-building residential site. The plaintiff asserted that the defendants general contractor, framing contractor and carpentry subcontractor, who had obtained the services of the plaintiff’s employer, negligently failed to provide fall protection. The plaintiff maintained that as a result, he fell approximately 30 feet, suffering a displaced intra-articular comminuted fracture of the distal right radius and ulnar styloid and ulnar neuropathy.

The plaintiff was working on the highest elevation, installing roof sheathing on the side of the building. There were no catch platforms or guardrails installed on the sides of the building. The plaintiff had installed the first row of roof sheathing plywood on the roof and was attempting to install and nail the second row of plywood when the plywood slipped and struck his foot. This knocked the plaintiff from the upper roof to the lower roof and then to the ground. In total, he fell a distance of approximately 30 feet. The plaintiff’s safety expert asserted that the defendants should have insisted that fall protection be provided.

The defendants would have maintained that the plaintiff had been working in the industry virtually all of his adult life, was aware of the hazards and was comparatively negligent in failing to use an available safety harness. The plaintiff’s safety expert would have testified safety harnesses can provide fall protection but that since the effective use of safety harnesses at the edge of the roof truss, which was an open frame the first row or so of the plywood sheathing might not provide a secure anchor point for the harness. The evidence also reflected that often workers don’t use harnesses because the need to frequently change the anchor point slows the work.

The plaintiff’s expert related that the defendants had conducted Job Hazard Analysis for fall protection, which dictated that the type of fall protection to be utilized at the jobsite included catch platforms or guardrails. The plaintiff maintained that such safeguards were not present at the location at which he was working.

The plaintiff suffered a displaced intra-articular comminuted fractured of the distal right radius and ulnar styloid and ulnar nerve neuropathy. The plaintiff maintained that despite seven separate operative procedures and four nerve block injections, he will permanently suffer pain in the right wrist, as well as significant loss of motion of the right wrist. The plaintiff continues to experience difficulty with strength of grip of his right hand and controlling the range of motion in his right fifth finger. The plaintiff also continues to suffer neurological deficits involving pain and numbness in the fourth and fifth digits of the right hand, as well as the ulnar border of the long finger.

The plaintiff made economic claims that ranged from approximately $________ to approximately $________, depending upon whether he can obtain more sedentary work or is permanently unemployable.

The plaintiff also asserted that he was formerly very active, enjoyed soccer and performed many chores around the home which are now difficult or impossible.The case settled prior to trial for $________, including $________ from the general contractor and a total of $________ from the carrier who covered the framing contractor and the carpenter subcontractor that engaged the employer.

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