$4,950,000 – Paralyzed Roofer

A roofer who was left paralyzed when he fell through an asbestos concrete roof will be paid nearly $5 million in the settlement of a suit against the contractor that hired him and the owner of the building. He alleged he was never warned of the dangers the decaying roof posed.

In the suit, Mark Radick claimed that when he was hired as a subcontractor to finish a roofing repair at the Evans Heat Treating Co. plant, he wasn’t told of the extent of the damage the roof had suffered from a buildup of snow and ice or of the need to use fall-protection devices.

According to court papers, Radick fell 40 feet to the plant floor, bouncing off a large metal furnace on the way down, and crushed his spinal cord.

In a memo prepared for the settlement talks, Radick’s lawyers – Robert J. Mongeluzzi and Andrew R. Duffy (no relation to the writer) of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky – said Radick was “instantly . . . transformed into a medically complicated paraplegic who will never walk again, is paralyzed from the waist down, suffers from unrelenting pain, and is forced to live with bowel and bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, a traumatic brain injury, and extreme depression for the rest of his life.”

Named as defendants in the suit were the prime contractor, Munn & Sons Inc., and the building owner, Evans Heat Treating.

Duffy said the case, Radick v. Munn & Sons, settled after mediation conducted by attorney Allan H. Gordon of Kolsby Gordon Robin Shore & Bezar.

Under the terms of the settlement, Munn & Sons will pay $4.8 million and Evans Heat will pay $150,000, for a total settlement of $4.95 million.

Munn & Sons’ lawyer, Joan D. Daly of Gibley & McWilliams in Media, could not be reached for comment.

According to court papers, the roof at the Evans Heat plant developed cracks and holes in January 2005, and Munn & Sons was hired to do emergency repairs.

Edward Munn later hired Radick to finish the job of replacing the asbestos concrete roof with a corrugated metal roof.

But the suit alleged that Munn never told Radick of the dangerous condition of the roof and failed to instruct him in the use of a “high reach” device used for fall protection.

Radick testified he believed the panel from which he was working was undamaged and capable of supporting his weight. But when he knelt down on it to remove a screw from an adjacent, damaged panel, the panel on which he was kneeling broke, causing him to fall through the roof to the plant floor.

A key dispute in the suit was whether Munn & Sons had a duty to protect Radick.

The central theme of the defense was that no such duty existed since Radick was an independent contractor over whom Munn & Sons had no control.

But Radick’s lawyers argued that Munn “clearly retained control of the job and, as the prime contractor, had the legal obligation to ensure the roof was safe and Mark Radick was protected.”

Plaintiffs’ construction expert, Stephen A. Estrin, said in his report that Munn violated numerous OSHA regulations and deviated from accepted construction roof safety principles.

Estrin’s report said Munn’s negligence was the proximate cause of Radick’s injuries because Munn never told Radick to either work out of the high reach when removing or installing roof panels or to tie off to the high reach.

Munn also failed to perform a job hazard analysis to establish how to perform this job safely, Estrin said in his report, and therefore acted unreasonably for a prime roofing contractor and deviated from accepted standard construction roof safety practices by failing to require and enforce the use of fall protection by Radick.

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