Employer Failed to Provide Restraint System to Roofer


In July 2007, plaintiff Jorge, 42, a roofer, and his brother, plaintiff Guillermo, were performing roofing work on a commercial property located in San Carlos, which was owned by Karl and Paula. While working on the roof, Jorge fell about 25 feet to the concrete sidewalk below and sustained severe bodily injuries. Guillermo witnessed the fall.

Karl and Paula hired Willis and Gustaf, father-and-son contractors who operate under various business names. They were hired to repair the roof on the property, and subsequently hired Jorge and Guillermo. The defendants, including Willis and Gustaf, failed to respond to the complaint. As a result, following the family’s prove-up of their damages, a default judgment was taken against the defendants for $12 million. Thus, the matter continued against Karl and Paula only.

Plaintiff Allegations

The defendants did not have a state contractor license to perform the roofing work, and were uninsured for Workers’ Compensation. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant property owners were liable for hiring an unlicensed contractor, for work requiring a license and for failing to provide Jorge with an approved personal fall protection, arrest, or restraint system.

Defendant Allegations

Counsel for Karl and Paula disputed the extent of the damages suffered by each plaintiff.


Jorge was taken to a hospital and was treated for a bilateral distal radius fracture, a radiocarpal dislocation, an L1 burst fracture and a calcaneus fracture. In addition, he suffered from psychological injuries caused by his fall from the roof, resulting in emotional distress, mild psychiatric mood disorder, chronic adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety, and depression. His psychological problems caused cognitive limitations as well. While Jorge underwent psychiatric treatment for his chronic adjustment disorder, his injuries will affect him for the rest of his life. Jorge’s wife, Gloria, sought recovery for her loss of consortium. Guillermo, who witnessed Jorge’s fall, and suffered severe emotional distress and anguish as a result, made a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.


Karl and Paula settled with the plaintiffs for $1,700,000 million at the time of trial.

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