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.
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In a 3-2 decision The New York Appellate Division, 1st Department affirmed the granting of summary judgment to a construction worker on his 240(1) claim. In Reavely v.Yonkers Raceway Programs, Inc., et al., decided on October 20, 2011, the worker suffered injury while assisting in the installation of a hang wall at the edge of a building foundation. The pertinent facts as to the happening of the accident were set forth by The Court;

“Approximately 10 minutes before plaintiff approached the wall to make the cut, another contractor had finished installing waterproofing on the surface of the foundation where plaintiff would be doing the work. Plaintiff knew that it ordinarily takes at least 20 minutes for the waterproofing, which is a tar-like, viscous material, to dry. However, he was directed to make the cut immediately and did not want to defy his supervisor by waiting until he could be certain that the surface was safe. Plaintiff tested the material, and it appeared dry enough to stand on, so he commenced his work. As he was completing the cut, he attempted to replant his right foot and slipped on the viscous waterproofing. According to plaintiff’s affidavit submitted in connection with the subject summary judgment motions, “When I slipped I lost my balance. My body was pulled forward and I hovered over the uncovered 10 feet trench edge without fall protection. It was 10 feet deep there because that particular section had not been backfilled. I felt that I was about to go over the edge. I reacted immediately and instinctively to teetering by trying to stand up. I also desperately tried to counter the momentum pulling me over the edge by arching back. I knew that I was holding a potentially lethal saw which I was about to go over ]with, or even worse, on. Worried about hitting my leg as well and in the process of teetering and desperately trying to prevent myself from going fully over the trench edge, my right hand came off the operating saw and it struck my right hand, thumb and forefinger before it dropped.” Thus, according to plaintiff’s uncontested version of events, he did not actually sustain his injury by falling into the trench, but rather by attempting to prevent himself from falling.”

In rejecting the defendants’ attorney’s assertion that plaintiffs’ Labor Law § 240(1) claim should be dismissed because plaintiff did not fall from a height, and no object fell upon him from above it held;

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nysbaThis year’s program will focus on specific types of cases frequently encountered in motor vehicle litigation. Our Partner, Christopher L. Sallay is the Program Co-Chair of this New York State Bar Association program and will be speaking at the New York and Long Island program. Our partner, Howard S. Hershenhorn will also be speaking at the program. Below are Links to the locations, dates and description of the Program.

There are four Statewide Locations– Click on one of the links below for complete program information and to register online. Program time for all locations: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Long Island
www.nysba.org/MVALongIsland
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Albany
www.nysba.org/MVAAlbany
Thursday, November 10, 2011
New York City
www.nysba.org/MVANewYork

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Syracuse
www.nysba.org/MVASyracuse

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On Tuesday, November 1, 2011, Cardozo Law School will hold a seminar on Opening Statements for more than 100 students as a prerequisite to its Intensive Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP). Featured Speakers at the lecture include Ben Rubinowitz, and Judith Livingston. Both Rubinowitz and Livingston have been recognized as two of the most successful Trial Lawyers in New York and both are members of the Inner Circle of Advocates — a group of the top 100 Trial Attorneys in the Country. Each of these speakers has obtained multiple million dollar verdicts in areas including Medical Malpractice claims, Automobile Accident cases, Construction Accident cases, Products Liability claims and Civil Rights violations. In the past both Rubinowitz and Livingston have been asked to give demonstrations of their successful Trial Techniques at the annual Continuing Legal Education program “Masters of Trial Law Seminar.” Rubinowitz stated “It is an honor to be asked to participate in this program. I am delighted that Judy Livingston will be joining me in this event.”

Learn more about ITAP:

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In a New York construction accident case in which a worker suffered injury when he fell from a scaffold The Court rejected the recalcitrant worker defense. In Mazurett v. Rochester City School District, decided by The New York Appellate Division, 4th Department on October 7, 2011, the construction worker sustained injury when he fell from a collapsing scaffold at a construction site. In affirming the granting of summary judgment for the plaintiff on his 240(1) claim the Court rejected the defense that the plaintiff was a recalcitrant worker whose conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident holding;

“Plaintiffs met their initial burden of establishing a prima facie violation of Labor Law § 240 (1). The fact that the scaffold collapsed “is sufficient to establish as a matter of law that the [scaffold] was not so ‘placed . . . as to give proper protection’ to plaintiff” pursuant to the statute (Dean v City of Utica, 75 AD3d 1130, 1131; see Tapia v Mario Genovesi & Sons, Inc., 72 AD3d 800, 801; see also Cantineri v Carrere, 60 AD3d 1331). In opposition to the motion, defendant failed to raise a triable issue of fact whether plaintiff’s “own conduct, rather than any violation of Labor Law § 240 (1), was the sole proximate cause of his accident” (Cahill v Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Auth., 4 NY3d 35, 40). We reject defendant’s contention that plaintiff was a recalcitrant worker whose own actions were the sole proximate cause of the accident. Although defendant submitted evidence that plaintiff was instructed to use a more stable scaffold and to use a ladder to ascend the scaffold, defendant failed to submit any evidence that plaintiff refused to use a particular scaffold or ladder that was provided to him. “The mere presence of [other safety devices] somewhere at the work site” does not satisfy defendant’s duty to provide appropriate safety devices (Zimmer v Chemung County Performing Arts, 65 NY2d 513, 524, rearg denied 65 NY2d 1054; see Williams v City of Niagara Falls, 43 AD3d 1426; Whiting v Dave Hennig, Inc., 28 AD3d 1105, 1106). Even assuming, arguendo, that plaintiff was negligent, we conclude that his own conduct cannot be deemed the sole proximate cause of the accident inasmuch as plaintiffs established that a statutory violation was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries (see Blake v Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of N.Y. City, 1 NY3d 280, 290; Calderon v Walgreen Co., 72 AD3d 1532, appeal dismissed 15 NY3d 900).”

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In Schick v. 200 Blydenburgh, LLC, et al., 2d Department decided October 4, 2011, the plaintiff sustained injury when he fell from a ladder on which he was standing. The Court set forth the facts as follows;

“On March 9, 2007, the date of the subject accident, Pal Supply had not yet moved into the premises. That morning, the injured plaintiff (hereinafter the plaintiff), a field technician for Verizon, was assigned to provide telephone service for Pal Supply at the warehouse. According to the plaintiff’s deposition testimony, upon arrival at the warehouse, he discovered that the installation of three telephone lines would involve connecting the terminal located at the telephone pole on the road to an existing underground wire leading to a serving terminal located inside the rear of the warehouse. The plaintiff testified that he thought he would then install the Network Interface Device (hereinafter the NID), which would house the three telephone lines, a few feet from this serving terminal. However, according to the plaintiff, a Pal Supply employee told him to run a wire from the serving terminal along the ceiling to an area above the office doorway, and to install the NID over the doorway.

The plaintiff further testified at his deposition that he installed the cross connection wire from the telephone pole terminal to the underground wire, tested the dial tone at the serving terminal, and attached the wire from the serving terminal along the wall leading from the serving terminal up to the ceiling. The plaintiff attached the wire to existing structural trusses using plastic zip ties, slicing off the tails of the ties with a diagonal cutter. As the plaintiff was attaching the wire to the trusses that were near the ceiling, which were approximately 20 feet high, he felt the ladder on which he was standing shift up and down, the bottom of the ladder slid out, and the plaintiff fell to the floor. The plaintiff alleged that the ladder slipped or shifted due to sand, dirt, or dust on the floor.”

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In Delaney v. Town Sports International, doing business as New York Sports Club, et al., 2d Department decided on October 4, 2011, the Court was with faced with the age old question of trivial or de minimis defects.

The plaintiff suffered injury as a result of falling over a moveable wooden platform which had been placed on the tile floor of a sauna located within the defendants’ premises. The platform was 1½ inches off the floor with a ½ inch lip or overhang, and was located approximately 9½ inches from the sauna entrance door. The defendants moved for summary judgment contending, among other things that any alleged defect was trivial in nature. In denying defendants’ motion for summary judgment The Court held;

“”Whether a dangerous or defective condition exists on the property of another so as to create liability depends on the circumstances of each case and is generally a question of fact for the jury” (Perez v 655 Montauk, LLC, 81 AD3d 619, 619; see Trincere v County of Suffolk, 90 NY2d 976, 977; Vani v County of Nassau, 77 AD3d 819). Although some defects are trivial and, therefore, not actionable as a matter of law (see Trincere v County of Suffolk, 90 NY2d at 977; Vani v County of Nassau, 77 AD3d at 819), “[i]n determining whether a defect is trivial as a matter of law, a court [*2]must examine all of the facts presented, including the width, depth, elevation, irregularity, and appearance of the defect, along with the time, place, and circumstances of the injury” (Perez v 655 Montauk, LLC, 81 AD3d at 619-620; see Trincere v County of Suffolk, 90 NY2d at 977-978; Sabino v 745 64th Realty Assoc., LLC, 77 AD3d 722).

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Please note that for those of you handling New York City Elevator Accidents the old system of Local Law 10/81 inspections and two year tests ended on January 1, 2009. The new rule published on April 14, 2010 requires the following inspections and test cycle:

“(5) Inspection and test cycle.

(i) Category 1. Except as otherwise provided by the commissioner, January first through December thirty-first of each year.