A Pennsylvania appeals court has thrown out 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 overturned the multi-million dollar jury award for Jason Yoder because the general contractor on the roofing work qualified as the worker’s statutory employer and was therefore immune from civil suit.
Yoder was seriously injured on October 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.
After his injuries, Yoder sued McCarthy for negligence. A lower judge found that McCarthy did not qualify as Mr. Yoder̵7;s statutory employer and that Mr. Yoder was an independent contractor.
After a trial in June 2021, a jury awarded Yoder $5 million. After late payment penalties, the price was $5,590,650.69. McCarthy appealed.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned the entire verdict and remanded the case to the lower court to sentence McCarthy, saying that while it expressed “displeasure at having to disturb the jury’s verdict,” the award was legally inappropriate.
The court ruled that Yoder should have been barred from claiming independent contractor status because he previously claimed that he was an employee and could secure workers’ compensation benefits after the work injury.
The court said McCarthy, as a statutory employer, should have been immune from liability.
The judges said Yoder should have been barred from claiming independent contractor status because he was able to secure compensation benefits after the accident.