We see the court here saying what we’ve explained before – that you can’t sue your employer. However, you can get workers’ compensation benefits from them. On a construction site, you can sue other parties like the owner and general contractor. They are responsible for the things done, not done, or not done safely, by any contractor, even if the owner or general contractor didn’t see it or know about it. It’s their responsibility to make sure the site is safe.
This case also shows how important good lawyering is. While I can’t be sure what the worker’s lawyers did there, I know they didn’t show the Court that the contractor should have known that it was likely that the roof that partially collapsed would do so; so no summary judgment. That doesn’t mean the worker lost, it only means that that worker will have to win the “who is responsible” part at a trial – unlike the MacDonnell case I mentioned above where the worker won because a scaffold collapsed. The difference is that the court presumes the contractors know safety devices like ladders and scaffolds can break, fall, or cause a worker to fall. Roofs shouldn’t just fall or collapse. But if the worker’s lawyer shows that the contractors should have known the roof could partially collapse, they would win summary judgment too.