Favorable rulings were afforded to plaintiffs recently in two separate Labor Law disputes decided by the Appellate Division, First Department. Sections 240 and 241 of the Labor Law were addressed in the decisions.
In the first instance, partial summary judgment was granted to the plaintiff after he fell a floor while repairing an elevator. The latch worked improperly, causing the plaintiff to fall while repairing the elevator. The Court ruled that the latch was considered a “device” under the wording of Labor Law Section 240(1), which states that “[A]ll contractors and owners and their agents…shall furnish or erect…devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed.” Because the Court deemed the latch a device, the plaintiff was entitled to recover under this section of the Labor Law.
In the second case, an inspector was injured while installing new subway tracks. The Court ruled that the defendant failed to conduct continuing inspections to ensure that the work area was maintained in a safe manner. As Section 241(6) of the Labor Law mandates, “[A]ll areas in which construction, excavation, or demolition work is being performed shall…provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the persons employed therein…”
Important to note in these Labor Law scenarios is that these are strict liability provisions. In other words, actions by the injured party that, under normal circumstances would render him or her comparatively liable, do not apply. It is the duty of the employer to ensure that its employees are working in safe environments.