In Cordeiro v. TS Midtown Holdings, LLC, et al., The New York Appellate Division, First Department on September 15, 2011, granted plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment as to liability on their Labor Law § 240(1) claim.
The plaintiff sustained injury while preparing to remove elevator equipment from a building owned and managed by defendants by hoisting it through hatchway doors connecting a motor room with the floor below it. As plaintiff was sliding open the latch to the doors, they unexpectedly opened, causing him to fall to the floor below. Despite the fact that the doors were a permanent fixture of the building The Court in granting the motion and reversing the lower Court held;
“Plaintiffs met their prima facie burden of establishing entitlement to partial summary judgment on their Labor Law § 240(1) claim. Although the doors through which plaintiff fell were a permanent fixture of the building, they were not a “normal appurtenance,” but rather, an access opening specifically built for the purpose of allowing workers to perform their work on the building elevators by hoisting materials to the building’s motor rooms (Brennan v RCP Assoc., 257 AD2d 389, 391 , lv dismissed 93 NY2d 889 ). Accordingly, we find that the hatch in this case was a “device” within the meaning of § 240(1) (see id.; Crimi v Neves Assoc., 306 AD2d 152, 153 ). Further, plaintiff did not step onto hatchway doors that opened accidentally (compare Bonura v KWK Assoc., 2 AD3d 207 , and Rodgers v 72nd St. Assoc., 269 AD2d 258 ). Rather, plaintiff was required to open the doors in order to hoist up the governor from the 19th floor hallway below. This exposed plaintiff to a gravity-related risk of falling into the hallway from the motor room (see Godoy v Baisley Lbr. Corp., 40 AD3d 920 ).”