PHILADELPHIA – A roofing contractor who suffered a crushed right thumb on the job is suing his former employer for medical expenses, after said employer supposedly did not carry Workers' Compensation insurance when the accident took place.

On March 26, Ronald Northern of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas versus Foster Hands (individually and trading as “Professional Hand Home Remodeling & Roofing”) of Philadelphia.

The suit states the plaintiff was performing roofing services with the defendant on a residential property in Philadelphia as an employee, though the defendant did not carry workers compensation insurance.

On Sept. 15, 2016, the suit states Foster Hands had a duty to keep Northern safe and free from harm. At the aforementioned date and time, Northern, the defendant and homeowner climbed an extension ladder to examine the roof of the house. The ladder was a 44-foot ladder, which contained a lock at approximately 22 feet, but retracts into itself and measures 22 feet tall, when retracted.

The homeowner descended the ladder, followed by the defendant, who unlocked the ladder on the way down. Meanwhile, Northern was on the ground pulling the ladder towards the house to keep it from retracting and after the defendant had safely reached the ground, he instructed the plaintiff to go retrieve the ladder. As plaintiff climbed the ladder, the defendant stood behind the ladder and pulled it towards the house in order to keep it from retracting.

“When plaintiff had climbed to approximately 18 feet, defendant Hands pushed the ladder away from the house causing the top half of the ladder to violently and forcefully crash down on the plaintiff’s right thumb. The aforementioned incidents were caused by the carelessness and negligence of the defendant Foster Hands and was in no manner due to any act or omission on the part of the plaintiff,” the suit reads.

Northern says he is entitled to his rights as set forth in the Workers Compensation Act (WCA), where he is compensated for his injuries without having to prove the fault of the employer, nor that he was free from contributory negligence or assumption of the risk – and the defendant is not entitled to any immunities under the WCA.

Northern suffered a crush injury to his right thumb requiring surgical fusion, resulting infection following surgery, deformity, disfigurement and a second surgery for the placement of hardware, together with excruciating physical pain and emotional anguish and a severe shock to his entire nervous system and other secondary problems and complications, the full extent of which are not yet know, some or all of which are permanent in nature.

“As a result of the joint and several carelessness and negligence of the defendant as set forth below, plaintiff has in the past required roughly 2-3 weeks of hospitalization following a surgical procedure will be required to undergo a second surgical procedure requiring hospitalization, and he has in the past and will in the future incur substantial expenses for medicine, hospital, medical care and/or rehabilitative care to attend to, treat, alleviate, minimize and/or cure his conditions,” the suit states.

For counts of negligence, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus costs, interest and other relief as is proper and just.

The plaintiff is represented by Thomas More Holland and Kelly A. Trewella of the Law Offices of Thomas More Holland, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180303018

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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