AUGUSTA — A jury in Kennebec County awarded an Augusta man $475,000 in damages for injuries he suffered six years ago when he fell while working on a roof.

Wednesday’s verdict followed a two-day trial in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Martin James Merrill, 54, of Augusta, sued Ricky Lee Sirois, who was doing business as Caswell and Son, over the accident, claiming Sirois was negligent in his placement of equipment.

Medical records filed in the case in Kennebec County Superior Court say Merrill fell eight to 10 feet from the roof of a State Street home on Jan. 5, 2009, and suffered a number of internal injuries, including a fractured pelvis and a fractured elbow. One record says Merrill was removing Christmas lights at the time.

Merrill was transferred to Maine Medical Center for treatment and ended up with $131,000 in medical bills, according to his attorney, Peter Clifford. Some records indicated MaineCare paid for much of Merrill’s care.

“After the accident, he lived in poverty, with no income and huge medical problems,” Clifford said. “No one was looking out for him.”


Clifford said a witness testified that Sirois was the general contractor and set the ladder improperly.

“We believe this jury verdict is a very positive step for worker safety in Maine,” Clifford said. “It demonstrates that general contractors, both big and small, need to understand the (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) safety rules and follow them strictly. In this case, the failure to follow them resulted in a tragedy, and the jury found that the general contractor’s failure to follow the rules was intolerable. We believe they gave a just verdict in this case.”

Sirois, 49, formerly of Pittston, Randolph and South Gardiner, is serving a federal prison sentence in Fairton, N.J., after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. He is due for release on June 1, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator. He was not present in the state courtroom for the two-day trial. His testimony in the case came in via depositions.

At one point in a deposition, Sirois denied having responsibility in the case, saying, “I never directed anyone to do anything to the roof. I told (the homeowner) weeks before that I would not be doing his chimney because it was getting too cold. No instructions were ever given, none of my equipment was there and no warnings were given because I never talked to Marty Merrill ever again about this job.”

Sirois denied being at the work site and said in a deposition that he was en route from a doctor’s office when he received a phone call saying Merrill had fallen.

Sirois also indicated he had insurance through the Gosline Insurance Group in Gardiner.


J. William Druary, the attorney representing Sirois, said Thursday, “This was an unfortunate verdict. We believed the plaintiff caused his own injuries, but the jury obviously disagreed. We respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their work on this difficult case.”

Druary said it was too early to say whether the civil jury verdict would be appealed.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

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