Posted On: April 15, 2011 by GGCSMB&R

Denial of summary judgment as to liability on Construction Worker's Labor Law § 240(1) Cause of Action Reversed

By Anthony H. Gair,
In Arnaud v. 140 Edgecomb LLC, et al., decided on April 14, 2011, The New York Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the denial of summary judgment in a construction accident case on a construction worker's New York Labor Law 240(1) cause of action.

Plaintiff was working at a building undergoing renovation. Plaintiff and a co-worker were moving wood planks from the fourth floor to the second floor, by use of a pulley and ropes. While plaintiff was on the second floor, with his arms outstretched through a window to grab the wood as it was lowered, he was suddenly struck by a plank, which caused injury to his wrist and fingers. While we believe the decision was correct it seems the Courts are continuing to have trouble interpreting Runner v New York Stock Exch., Inc. The Court stated as follows;

"The extraordinary protections of Labor Law § 240(1) extend only to a narrow class of special hazards, and the decisive question as to whether the statute applies to a particular accident is whether plaintiff's injuries were the direct consequence of a failure to provide adequate protection against harm directly flowing from the application of the force of gravity to an object or person (see Runner v New York Stock Exch., Inc., 13 NY3d 599, 604 [2009], citing Ross v Curtis-Palmer Hydro-Elec. Co., 81 NY2d 494, 501 [1993])."

In fact in Runner, The Court stated, "Rather, the single decisive question is whether plaintiff's injuries were the direct consequence of a failure to provide adequate protection against a risk arising from a physically significant elevation differential." In the context of the facts of Runner The Court Stated "Manifestly, the applicability of the statute in a falling object case such as the one before us does not under this essential formulation depend upon whether the object has hit the worker. The relevant inquiry—one which may be answered in the affirmative even in situations where the object does not fall on the worker—is rather whether the harm flows directly from the application of the force of gravity to the object." In Arnaud The Court went on to hold;

"Nor does the fact that plaintiff did not point to any particular defect in the pulley defeat his entitlement to summary judgment (see Harris v 170 E. End Ave., LLC, 71 AD3d 408 [2010], lv dismissed 15 NY3d 911 [2010]; Orellano v 29 E. 37th St. Realty Corp., 292 AD2d 289 [2002]). Labor Law § 240(1) provides for liability where safety equipment such as hoists are not "placed and operated as to give proper protection." Thus, it is not necessary that plaintiff establish that the pulley was defective, only that he was not given "proper protection" (see Williams v 520 Madison Partnership, 38 AD3d 464 [2007]). "

In regard to Runner and Hoists see our prior post, New York Construction Accident Law: Gasques v. State of New York,What Does It Stand For?

In regard to falling objects see our prior post, New York Construction Accidents-The Demise of "Secured" in Falling Object Cases?

The New York Construction Accident Lawyers at Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom and Rubinowitz have years of experience representing construction workers who have suffered injury in construction accidents in New York.