Don’t Be Shocked by Denial of Labor Law 240(1) (NY)
The New York Supreme Court, Kings County has recently held that if a plaintiff is doing non-electrical work at a construction job site but touches live electrical wires and then falls from a height after being electrocuted, that plaintiff is not entitled to summary judgment pursuant to Labor Law 240(1).
In Synysta v. 450 Partners LLC, the plaintiff, a painter, was on a Baker’s scaffold and was spackling the tops of columns 10-12 feet high. The plaintiff’s employer had been hired to paint walls, ceilings, and doors, at a renovation. In the process of performing this work, the plaintiff was trying to reach around the column and held onto an electrical box for support. The plaintiff claimed that when he grabbed the electrical box he received an electric shock, which caused him to fall from the Baker’s scaffold to the ground and sustain injuries. The plaintiff asserted causes of action against the property owner and the general contractor based upon alleged violations of Labor Law 240(1), 241(6), 200, and common law negligence, but only moved for summary judgment on the Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6) claims.
The plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6) claims centered on the argument that the Baker’s scaffold was defective in some way and did not have proper safety railings. However, the Supreme Court held that although the plaintiff was performing work covered under Labor Law 240(1) when he was injured, his work had nothing to do with the electrical box which contained the live wires – and therefore the defendants had not violated Labor Law 240(1) by failing to provide safety materials specifically to prevent plaintiff from falling as a result of being electrocuted.
Thanks to Shira Strauss for her contribution to this post. Please email Georgia Coats with any questions.