Fullerton Beck LLP attorney Alexandra Sued obtained partial summary judgment in a suit filed in Kings County alleging violation of New York Labor Laws against the firm’s clients, a general contractor and Owner.  The Court ultimately dismissed the 240(1) claims and found questions of fact on 200 and 241(6).

The plaintiff, a construction worker, allegedly slipped, tripped and fell on construction debris which he alleged was covered with snow and ice, while carrying heavy machinery on downward slopping grade on the property.  Plaintiff alleged to have sustained extensive injuries to his back, shoulder and knee, which required multiple surgeries. The plaintiff claimed it was a gravity-related accident: that he fell because the machinery was so heavy that the defendants should have provided a hoist to move the equipment, in violation of LL 240. He also claimed the defendants were negligent in not clearing the snow and ice and other unidentified construction debris, allegedly violating LL 200.  Finally, with respect to LL 241(6), the plaintiff argued that the “earth ramp” he was walking on was not properly constructed and/or maintained.

While the Court found questions of fact on whether the area where the plaintiff fell constituted an earth ramp under the industrial codes and whether or not the certified weather records were sufficient to establish that there had been no precipitation in the 2 weeks prior to the loss and no freezing temperatures were sufficient to refute the LL 200 claims, the Court did agree that the plaintiff’s accident did not trigger LL 240.  The Court agreed with Alexandra’s arguments that the plaintiff’s accident was not gravity related.  The plaintiff neither fell from a height nor was struck by a falling object.  Further, the machine only fell after the plaintiff slipped/tripped and fell, and then he himself let go of the machine, causing it to fall.  

The Court granted Alexandra’s motion for summary judgment on the 240(1) claims, thus refusing to broaden its applicability to accidents that are clearly not related to the inherent risks associated with gravity-related construction work. This was especially significant since New York Labor Law 240 is a strict liability statute.