Associate Alexandra Sued won a motion for summary judgment for the firm’s client, an electrical contractor, resulting in a dismissal of all claims asserted against the company.

The case involved an HVAC worker who was delivering refrigeration equipment to the New York Yankees Steakhouse while it was under construction. Plaintiff alleged he tripped over a piece of wood while pulling a dolly (walking backwards), and landed in an elevator pit. Plaintiff alleged violations of Labor Law §§ 240(1), 241(6) and 200. The plaintiff claimed that the existence of the wooden debris in the hallway where he was transporting the equipment constituted a dangerous condition for which the defendants had constructive notice, and that, coupled with poor lighting and a shallow pit where materials were stored, contributed to his fall.

Fullerton Beck argued on behalf of the electrical contractor that “dark” and “poor” lighting were insufficient basis to establish the lighting was below the statutory requirement as set forth in Section §23-1.30 of the Industrial Code. Fullerton Beck also argued that the lighting was not the proximate cause of the accident, but rather the fact the plaintiff was walking backwards, thus causing the accident.

The court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint in its entirety holding that plaintiff was exposed to the usual and ordinary dangers of a construction site. The Court held that plaintiff failed to meet his burden to establish a violation of the industrial code related to lighting conditions and that the lighting condition was not a proximate cause of the accident. It also found that an 18-inch elevation differential is not of sufficient height to trigger the protection of the statute and/or necessitating any type of safety device. Finally, the Court held the defendants neither supervised or controlled the work giving rise to plaintiff’s injury; did create the alleged dangerous condition; and did not have prior notice of the alleged condition.

While the Court chose not to address the indemnification claims asserted against the electrical contractor, as they were deemed moot by the dismissal of plaintiff’s claims against the direct defendants, it is likely same would have been granted substantively in our client’s favor had the court decided to address the issue.

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