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An appeals court in New Jersey on Monday reversed and remanded a summary judgment granted to a general contractor whose alleged unsafe roof conditions and workplace safety hazards caused a subcontracted worker to fall more than 25 feet.
Joel Rivera, an employee of roofing subcontractor Guiliano Environmental, was working on a jobsite managed by Miles Square Roofing Co. Inc. and owned by PNL Jersey Properties LLC in July 2016 when he fell through an unguarded hole in the roof, causing a number of catastrophic injuries that included traumatic brain injury, according to documents in Joel Rivera v. PNL Jersey Properties and PNL Companies and Miles Square Roofing Co. Inc. v. Guiliano Environmental, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Mr. Rivera sought to sue MSR for not providing a safe workspace, including violations against U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards on fall protection for workers. MSR, in turn, filed for a summary judgment, claiming that witness reports had been filed too late. “Both parties provided expert witness reports by the discovery end date, but plaintiff's report was served beyond the deadline established in a case management order. Along with its summary judgment motion, MSR moved to bar plaintiff's liability expert because it was served almost two months late,” records state.
The Law Division granted the summary judgment and denied both sides' expert witness applications, “apparently treating them as moot,” records state.
The state Superior Court, in turn, ordered the case back to trial court. “Because we conclude it would likely benefit the jury to hear the testimony of an expert from each side in this case, and considering the catastrophic injuries sustained by plaintiff and the absence of any prejudice to MSR by the late service of plaintiff's expert report, we conclude, in the interests of justice, that plaintiff should be permitted to utilize his liability expert at trial,” Monday’s ruling stated.
Attorneys and companies involved could not immediately be reached for comment.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and a Georgia roofing contractor have settled a lawsuit over the company’s alleged violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.