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A Pennsylvania appellate court has struck down a $5.59 million jury award for a former roofer who suffered catastrophic spinal injuries after falling 20 feet through an unmarked hole in a roof.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the multi-million-dollar jury award for Jason Yoder because the general contractor on the roofing job qualified as the worker’s statutory employer and was therefore immune from civil suit.
Mr. Yoder was critically injured on Oct. 25, 2016, while working for Warminster, Pennsylvania-based roofing company RRR Contractors Inc., which was subcontracted by Glenolden, Pennsylvania-based McCarthy Construction Inc. on a roof repair job at the Norwood Public Library in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Following his injuries, Mr. Yoder sued McCarthy for negligence. A lower judge found that McCarthy failed to qualify as Mr. Yoder’s statutory employer and that Mr. Yoder was an independent contractor.
Following a June 2021 trial, a jury awarded $5 million to Mr. Yoder. After delay penalties, the award totaled $5,590,650.69. McCarthy appealed.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the entire judgment and remanded the case to the lower court to enter judgment for McCarthy, saying while it expressed “displeasure with having to disturb the jury’s verdict,” the award was legally improper.
The court determined that Mr. Yoder should have been prohibited from claiming independent contractor status since he previously claimed to be an employee and was able to secure workers compensation benefits after the workplace injury.
The court said McCarthy, as statutory employer, should have been immune from tort liability.
The judges said Mr. Yoder should have been prohibited from claiming independent contractor status since he was able to secure comp benefits after the accident.