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New York Court of Appeals Declines To Adopt The Same Level Rule In Construction Accident

In a must read case The New York Court of Appeals in Wilinski v. 334 East 92nd Housing Development Fund Corp., et al., decided October 25, 2011, 2011 NY Slip Op 7477, held that;

“Some New York courts have interpreted our decision in Misseritti v Mark IV Constr. Co. (86 NY2d 487 [1995]) to preclude recovery under Labor Law ยง 240 (1) where a worker sustains an injury caused by a falling object whose base stands at the same level as the worker. We reject that interpretation and hold that such a circumstance does not categorically bar the worker from recovery under section 240 (1). However, in this case, an issue of fact exists as to whether the worker’s injury resulted from the lack of a statutorily prescribed protective device.”

The Court went on to explain Misseritti;

“We do not agree that Misseritti calls for the categorical exclusion of injuries caused by falling objects that, at the time of the accident, were on the same level as the plaintiff. Misseritti did not turn on the fact that plaintiff and the base of the wall that collapsed on him were at the same level. Rather, just as in Narducci, the absence of a causal nexus between the worker’s injury and a lack or failure of a device prescribed by section 240 (1) mandated a finding against liability (see Misseritti, 86 NY2d at 490-491; Narducci, 96 NY2d at 268-269). Thus, we decline to adopt the “same level” rule,which ignores the nuances of an appropriate section 240 (1) analysis.”

The opinion contains an excellent discussion of recent case law in this area of construction accident claims brought pursuant to 240(1) and again is a must read.