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Labor Law Claims Dismissed against Property Owner
Our client, a Trust, owned a large property that included four parcels
and contained multiple buildings. The Trust contracted with a general
contractor to renovate the upstairs bedrooms and an exterior patio/terrace
of the main house. The plaintiff, an employee of the general contractor,
climbed an A-frame ladder to clean off cement that had splattered onto
the glass of a greenhouse connected to the main house. While performing
his work, the ladder wobbled causing plaintiff to fall through the greenhouse
glass and onto the greenhouse floor. Plaintiff sued our client, asserting
causes of action under Labor Law §§240, 241 and 200/negligence.
After the depositions, we filed a motion for summary judgement seeking
the dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint, arguing that our client
was entitled to the “homeowner’s exemption” to liability
under the Labor Law. The court agreed and dismissed the claims under Labor
Law §§240, 241 outright. The court also dismissed the 200/negligence
claim, finding that the greenhouse was code-compliant and otherwise free
from defects as a matter of law.
(Suffolk County Supreme Court, December 2019)
Slip and Fall Case Dismissed against Client Contractor
Plaintiff, a night-time security guard, slipped and fell on oil and water
on the basement floor of a High School during his nightly rounds. The
oil was alleged to have leaked from the boilers and the water was dripping
from pipes. He sued all contractors involved with the boilers and pipes,
including our client, a Duct Cleaning Company who performed annual cleaning
of the boiler’s exhaust and ductwork for the school district. In
our motion for dismissal, we established that the leak emanated from inside
the boiler, the repair of which was outside the scope of our client’s
work. Further, our client notified the school of the leak at the start
of its work, and finished its work after the leak was repaired. The court
agreed that our client had no duty with respect to the water leak, and
was not otherwise responsible for the oil and water condition that caused
plaintiff’s fall. All claims and cross-claims were dismissed against
our client as a matter of law.
(Suffolk County Supreme Court, August 2019).
Bronx Labor Law Action Dismissed as a Matter of Law
The plaintiff, a Site Safety Coordinator, alleged severe injuries and permanent
disability as a result of tripping over debris-filled garbage bags and
falling into an unprotected excavation hole at a worksite. He underwent
bilateral knee surgeries, and claimed a variety of injuries to his back
and limbs resulting in total incapacitation from employment. Plaintiff
commenced suit against the owner and our client, the general contractor,
asserting claims under Labor Law 200, 240(1) and 241(6). Original motions
for summary judgment by all parties were merely stamped “denied”
without written decision. Re-argument motions were similarly denied, and
appeals were pending when we applied to the new judge to consider the
original motions on the merits. The court granted the request and issued
a 10-page written decision granting our motion and dismissing plaintiff’s
complaint in its entirety. The court agreed with our argument that 240(1)
was inapplicable in that the hole did not pose an elevation-related risk
that required the special protections afforded by the statute, but rather
the type of “ordinary and usual” peril a worker is commonly
exposed to at a construction site. Regarding 241(6), the court agreed
that Industrial Code Sections 23-1.7(d) & (e) (slipping and tripping hazards) did not apply because plaintiff did not slip on an elevated platform
or trip within a passageway; and that 23-2.1 (storage of debris) was not applicable where plaintiff fell in a common area. Finally, the
court dismissed the negligence/200 claims against our client agreeing
that our client, among other reasons, did not have the authority to direct
or control the injury-producing work. Case dismissed! (Bronx County Supreme Court, March 2020)
Defense Verdict in Bronx County Labor Law Trial!
The plaintiff, a window installer, alleged severe knee injuries as the
result of tripping over large piles of construction debris at a new building
under construction in New York City. We represented the owner and general
contractor. In support of his Labor Law 241(6) cause of action, plaintiff
claimed the defendants violated Industrial Code 23-1.7 (e) pertaining
to tripping hazards at work sites. Plaintiff alleged severe injuries to
his knee, including tears that required arthroscopic surgery. He underwent
a partial knee replacement, then a total knee replacement surgery. Plaintiff
claimed he was permanently disabled as a result of his injuries, and sought
a multi-million dollar damages award for his pain and suffering, as well
as for past and future lost wages and medical expenses. Plaintiff presented
testimony from his numerous treating doctors and surgeons, all of whom
testified that his knee injuries were caused by the accident leaving plaintiff
permanently disabled and in need of lifetime medical treatment. Through
aggressive cross-examination of plaintiff’s doctors and experts,
and through testimony of experts on behalf of the defense, we elicited
evidence that plaintiff’s knee condition and surgeries were the
result of a pre-existing osteoarthritic condition in his knee. After weeks
of trial testimony, the jury returned a Defense Verdict - finding that
plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident.
(Bronx Supreme Court, February 2020).
Client Catering Company Granted Summary Judgment Dismissal
Plaintiff suffered multiple personal injuries as the result of a trip and
fall down a set of stairs outside of a building owned by the County. Our
client, a catering company, was catering a wedding at the building and
had a licensing agreement with the County for such events. Plaintiff claimed
that he fell because the stairwell was poorly lit. The Court granted our
client’s motion for summary judgment dismissal of plaintiff’s
claims against our client, as well as the County’s cross-claims,
agreeing with our arguments that maintenance of the stairwell lighting
was not the responsibility of our client.
Plaintiff Denied Summary Judgment under Labor Law §240(1) When Ladder Detached from Wall. Clients Granted Contractual Indemnifi
Plaintiff, an employee of a demolition subcontractor, fell while descending
a ladder suspended from a roof hatch during a demolition project. The
ladder became detached from the wall causing plaintiff to fall from the
ladder, along with the ladder itself striking the plaintiff. Plaintiff’s
employer was hired by our clients, the owner and property manager.
The Court denied plaintiff’s motion for liability under Labor Law
§240(1) finding a triable issue of fact as to whether plaintiff was
authorized to perform the work at the time it occurred. In addition, our
clients were awarded contractual indemnification over and against plaintiff’s
employer. The Court held that our client proved it was free from negligence,
and did not direct, control, or supervise the injury-producing work.
(Supreme Court, Kings County- September 2019)
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