Plaintiff Granted Partial Summary Judgment in New York Labor Law Claim

Partial summary judgment was granted for the plaintiff in an April labor law suit in Manhattan. The plaintiff’s husband had been working on a lift fixing the ceiling of the defendant property owner when he fell to his death. The First Department granted the plaintiff summary judgment on her Labor Law 240 claim.

Pursuant to Labor Law 240(1), all contractors and owners, with some exceptions, must provide protective devices to employees working from an elevated height. For this reason, 240(1) is commonly referred to as the “Scaffolding Act.” This act is a strict liability statute. This means that if it is found that the injuries resulted from a violation of 240(1), negligence on the part of the injured party will not be considered a mitigating defense for the defendant. In this case before the Court, the Appellate Division ruled that the plaintiff’s work for the property owner fit within the definition of Labor Law 240(1). As the Court stated, “Vasquez (the decedent) was working from an elevated height to repair the ceiling, and defendant failed to provide him with an adequate safety device. It is undisputed that besides the lift, defendant did not supply the workers with harnesses or safety lines.” So the injury meets both prongs of the test for violation of the Scaffolding Act. Because of this, the First Department decided that on this issue of liability, a finding of summary judgment for the plaintiff was proper.

The Court’s decision can be found on the official reports website.

Vasquez v Cohen Bros. Realty Corp., 2013 NY Slip Op 02682

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