Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Construction Accident

Published on:

1. Read the statute. When you get the case, make sure it fits within the parameters of Labor Law §240(1):

a. Was the injured worker engaged in a §240 activity? Construction, demolition, etc.

b. Was the injured worker working on a building or structure?

Published on:

In MALONEY v.J.W. PFEIL & COMPANY, INC.,et al., Appellate Division, 3rd Department, decided May 19, 2011, plaintiff, while standing on the top cap of a six-foot ladder installing sheetrock on an overhead soffit, fell and sustained injury. Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on his Labor Law § 240 (1) cause of action and defendants cross-moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Given the facts as set forth by the Court it is difficult to understand why plaintiff brought the motion. According to The Court plaintiff testified as follows;

“In his deposition testimony, plaintiff admitted knowing that there were other safety devices in other locations in the building better suited for the type of work he was about to perform and that he had routinely used these devices while working on this project. He acknowledged that a baker’s scaffold was in his immediate work area and, at the time of his fall, was being used by n associate working with him. Plaintiff also acknowledged that the stepladder he was using at the time of his fall, while not defective, was not tall enough for the work he was performing, and he admitted knowing that it of his fall, was being used by an associate working with him.

Plaintiff also acknowledged that the stepladder he was using at the time of his fall, while not defective, was not tall enough for the work he was performing, and he admitted knowing that it contained a written warning never to stand on the top cap of the ladder when using it. Given this proof, we find that defendants made a prima facie showing that Labor Law § 240 (1) was not violated (see id. at 917; see also Jock v Landmark Healthcare Facilities, LLC, 62 AD3d 1070, 1071 [2009]), shifting the burden to plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact as to this claim.

Published on:

Our partner Howard Hershenhorn recently settled this case in New York Supreme Court, New York County. The case involved the wrongful death of a 38 year old construction worker who fell from a ladder at 80 Centre street in Manhattan. The construction worker was in the process of demolishing a chimney when the 6 foot A-Frame ladder upon which he was standing shifted causing him to fall 25 feet. He sustained fatal injuries including a brain injury and other internal injuries from which he later died . On behalf of the Estate we argued that the defendants violated sections 240(1) and 241(6) of The New York Labor law and that these violations by the Owner and General contractor were the proximate cause of the accident and the worker’s death. The defense argued that the worker was the sole proximate cause of the accident in that he failed to use available safety devices.

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

Published on:

In Fox v H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P;et.al., 2011 NY Slip Op 03205, decided April 19, 2011, The Appellate Division, Second Department rejected defendant’s claim that plaintiff was enagaed in routine maintenance and thus Section 240(1) was not applicable.

The facts as set forth by The Court were as follows;

“The plaintiff was employed by the fourth-party defendant Garrity Electric, Inc. (hereinafter Garrity), as a mechanic performing general electrical contracting work. Pursuant to an agreement between the defendant third-party plaintiff, H & M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P. (hereinafter H & M), and the third-party defendant/fourth party plaintiff Maintenance, Etc., LLC (hereinafter Maintenance), which provides retail companies with vendors for construction services, Garrity was hired to replace bulbs and ballasts/transformers in 78 overhead light fixtures, located approximately 12 feet above the floor, in a retail store leased by H & M. Garrity had done business with H & M since 2000, performing electrical work for which it was paid the sum of $30,000 to $50,000 per year. Garrity furnished a team of “seven or eight” workers, including the plaintiff, which was led by a team foreman, to perform the subject work in the H & M store. The plaintiff allegedly was injured when he fell from a ladder while engaged in this work. The Supreme Court, inter alia, granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability on the Labor Law § 240(1) cause of action.”

Published on:

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;

Published on:

In Jose Miguel Moran v 200 Varick Street Associates, LLC, et al., 80 A.D.3d 581; 914 N.Y.S.2d 307, The Court granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on his 240(1) cause of action. The plaintiff suffered injury when he fell from a scaffold that lacked proper safety railings. Of particular interest is The Court’s holding regarding intoxication of the injured worker;

“The evidence that the plaintiff was not engaged in a statutorily protected activity or was intoxicated was not admissible (see Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 NY2d 557, 563, 404 N.E.2d 718, 427 N.Y.S.2d 595; Maniscalco v Liro Eng’g Constr. Mgt., 305 A.D.2d 378, 380, 759 N.Y.S.2d 163; Madalinski v Structure-Tone, Inc., 47 AD3d at 688). Moreover, since the scaffold lacked safety railings, the defendant’s alleged intoxication was not the sole proximate cause of his injuries (see Bondanella v Rosenfeld, 298 AD2d 941, 942, 747 N.Y.S.2d 645; Podbielski v KMO-361 Realty Assocs.., 294 A.D.2d 552, 553-554, 742 N.Y.S.2d 664; Sergeant v Murphy Family Trust, 284 AD2d 991, 992, 726 N.Y.S.2d 537).”

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

Published on:

By Anthony H. Gair

In Gasques v. State of New York, 15 N.Y.3d 869, 910 N.Y.S.2d 415 (Ct. Apps. 2010), , a two paragraph decision with regard to Section 240(1) the Court stated as follows:

“Claimant Wanderlei Gasques was injured while repainting the inside of a leg of the Kosciuszko Bridge, using a ‘spider scaffold.’ His hand was injured when it became caught between the scaffold and the leg of the bridge, while the scaffold was ascending.

With respect to claimants’ Labor Law §240(1) cause of action, the parties agree that Gasques’s hand was crushed because the scaffold continued to move, under the impetus of one of its motors, while his hand was trapped between an external motor control on the scaffold and the steel of the bridge. This injury was not the direct consequence of the application of the force of gravity to an object or person (see Runner v. New York Stock Exch., Inc., 13 NY3d 599, 604, 922 N.E.2d 865, 895 N.Y.S.2d 279 [2009]; Ross v. Curtis-Palmer Hydro-Elec. Co., 81 NY2d 494, 500-501, 618 N.E.2d 82, 601 N.Y.S.2d 49 [1993]). Therefore claimants’ Labor Law §240(1) claim was properly dismissed.”

On first reading this decision one might conclude that in future cases a defendant might argue that there is no Section 240(1) liability if;

1. A motorized hoist or scaffold is involved.

2. Gravity is not involved if the hoist or scaffold is going up.

3. No 240(1) liability because no elevation related differential.

If one watches the oral argument on The New York Court of Appeals web site one could reasonably conclude that the basis of the decision was that the scaffold was going up since The Justices asked numerous questions as to how gravity could be involved since the scaffold was going up.

It is submitted that the basis for the Court’s decision had nothing to do with the scaffold being motorized or the fact that it was going up but the fact that there was no elevation related differential involved. This seems clear since the Court cited Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, supra.
Continue reading →

Published on:

In Pitts v. Bell Constructors, Inc.,et.al., 2011 NY Slip Op 1220 decided February 18, 2011 The New York Appellate Division, 4th Department reversed the lower court’s granting summary judgment to the defendant on plaintiffs’ Labor Law Section 240(1) cause of action and granted plaintiffs’ cross motion on their Section 240(1) claim.

The plaintiff was injured when he fell from a column form in a trench on which he had been standing into the trench. The Court pointed out that while a fall into a trench from the ground on either side is not covered by 240(1) this was not the case in this accident holding as follows;

“Plaintiffs established theirentitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that” plaintiff was not furnished with the requisite safety devices andthat the absence of [such] safety devices was a proximate cause of his injuries” (Williams v City of Niagara Falls, 43 AD3d 1426, 1427).Although generally a fall into a trench from the ground on either side is not covered by the statute (see e.g., Bradshaw v National Structures, 249 AD2d 921; Williams v White Haven Mem. Park, 227 AD2d 923), where, as here, a plaintiff is working or walking over a plank or similar support suspended over a trench and falls into it, the statute applies (see Wild v Marrano/Marc Equity Corp., 75 AD3d 1099).”

Published on:

In recognition of his success in the Courtroom, Ben Rubinowitz has been asked to lecture to students attending St. John’s Law School on February 28, 2011. Not only will Ben lecture to the students but he will demonstrate successful cross examination techniques in cases in which Ben has obtained multi-million dollar awards for his client’s. The topics include:

1. cases involving Medical Malpractice— the failure of doctors to timely and appropriately diagnose cancer as well as negligence in conducting surgery and surgical errors;

2. Construction Site Accidents — The failure of General Contractors and Owners to provide a safe place to work resulting in injury and death to construction workers;

Published on:

In this New York Construction Accident case The Second Department granted plaintiff”s motion for summary judgment on his 240(1) cause of action. The facts as set forth by the Court were as follows;

“In August 2004 the plaintiff was working as a carpenter on a project involving renovation of office space for the lessee of that space, the defendant Orthopedic Associates of Dutchess County, P.C. (hereinafter the defendant). The plaintiff alleged that debris, including metal studs 10 to 12 feet long, were thrown down a chute from the fourth floor of the subject building, and that he was responsible for unclogging the bottom of the chute on the ground floor. He further alleged that he was injured when, while clearing the chute, he was struck on the hand and lower arm by one of those metal studs that had either been (a) deposited into the chute on the fourth floor and fell down the interior of the chute before striking him as he worked on the ground floor, (b) deposited into the chute on the fourth floor, and became blocked by a stud lodged near the bottom of the chute, but again began to fall when the plaintiff dislodged the lower stud, or (c) lodged near the bottom of the chute, but had become dislodged when another metal stud fell several stories down the interior of the chute and struck it.”

In granting the motion the Court citing Runner stated, ” The Court of Appeals has recently stated that “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” (Runner v New York Stock Exch., Inc., 13 NY3d at 603). The Court went on to state;