Summary Judgment Upheld in Second Department Labor Law Suit

The Supreme Court, Appellate Division (Second Department) recently affirmed the decision of the Suffolk County Supreme Court granting summary judgment to the defendant in a Labor Law action. The Second Department agreed with the Supreme Court that the plaintiff did not raise a triable issue of fact, and as such, the defendant was granted judgment as a matter of law.

Labor Law Section 240, often referred to as the Scaffolding Act, states that contractors and owners must provide proper protection to workers employed in various aspects of construction, such as erection, demolition, and painting, to name just a few. This is a strict liability statute, meaning that if a worker is injured while performing any of the tasks laid out in the statute, in the manner laid out in the statute, then no negligence on the part of the worker can be considered contributory. There is an exclusion in the statute, however. It statute governs “contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work.” Thus, the owner of a house is exempt, as long as he or she does not take an active part in supervising or directing the work of those contracted with. Citing precedent, the Appellate Division ruled that the owner of this building was covered by this exception in the statute.

For a synopsis of the decision, click 2012 NY Slip Op 04149 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.).

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