HUNTINGTON – An Ohio man who fell through the roof of Salt Rock Elementary School last summer is suing the roofing company for which he worked, alleging it was responsible for the unmarked skylight that he says caused his fall.
Paul Arthur of Ironton, Ohio, filed a lawsuit April 1 in Cabell Circuit Court against Boggs Roofing Inc. That suit was later removed to federal court by Boggs Roofing.
In his complaint, Arthur claims he was working as a laborer for Boggs Roofing on July 23, 2008. Boggs Roofing was performing roofing repair and construction work at Salt Rock Elementary School at the time of the incident, according to the complaint.
As part of his job, Arthur was required to move roofing materials onto the roof of the school that would be used later in the repair and construction work, the suit states.
While performing the work about 20 feet above the ground, Arthur was not connected to a lanyard or anchor line, the complaint says.
As a result, Arthur claims he plunged 20 feet to the ground below when he stepped through an unmarked skylight.
"As a result of the fall, Plaintiff was seriously injured," the suit states. "Plaintiff Paul Arthur suffered severe and permanent injuries including a head injury resulting in a coma; injury to his face, jaw, ribs, and other places of his body causing physical pain and suffering."
In addition, he lost wages, lost his earning capacity, lost his ability to perform household services, lost his ability to enjoy life and suffered humiliation, embarrassment, annoyance and inconvenience, according to the complaint.
Arthur blames Boggs Roofing for allowing him to work with no full restraint system or harness, for being aware of the unsafe practices of requiring its employees to work on a roofing project and at a significant height with no restraints and for exposing him to the unsafe working condition.
However, Boggs Roofing claims it should be immune from the complaint because it is in good standing with the worker's compensation act. In its answer, which includes 19 defenses, Boggs Roofing also contends it was not responsible for the fall, and places the blame on Arthur.
"Boggs asserts that the Plaintiff's injuries, if any, were exclusively, directly and proximately caused by the actions or omissions of the Plaintiff, which were taken in direct contravention of the policy, training, procedure and direction of Boggs, its agents, servants or employees and without knowledge of Boggs," the company's answer states.
In addition the company denies some of Arthur's allegations against it, including the fact that Arthur was not wearing fall protection and the fact that it was aware of the unprotected skylight.
It does admit that Arthur fell through the skylight, saying in its answer the skylight "was obscured and otherwise unknown to Boggs."
In the two-count suit, Arthur is seeking compensatory damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney's fees, costs and other relief to which he may be entitled.
In its answer to the complaint, Boggs Roofing is asking for judgment in its favor, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.
Boggs Roofing removed the case to federal court because there is a diversity of citizenship between it –- a West Virginia corporation -– and Arthur –- an Ohio man. In addition, Arthur is seeking more than $75,000 worth of damages.
Arthur will be represented by Robert B. Warner and Tammy Bowles Raines of Warner Law Offices in Charleston.
Boggs Roofing will be represented by William J. Hanna and Eric L. Silkwood of Flaherty, Sensabaugh and Bonasso in Charleston.
U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-cv-634