New York Court Extends The Scope Of Protection Under Labor Law 240(1)
In Hensel v. Aviator FSC, Inc., the Second Department recently addressed the scope of “falling object” liability in deciding whether a plaintiff’s work entitled him to Labor Law §240(1) protection. Plaintiff in that case alleged that he was injured while loading heavy soccer boards into the back of a box truck. Plaintiff alleged that as he stood next to a forklift, the 100-pound board slid off the forklift and struck him in the head.
Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that §240(1) did not apply to plaintiff’s accident under those circumstances. Plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment and asserted that §240(1) liability applied. The Supreme Court agreed, granting Plaintiff’s cross-motion, and denying defendant’s motion.
The Second Department affirmed, recognizing that “Labor Law §240(1) provides special protection to those engaged in the ‘erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure.’” It found that the Supreme Court “correctly concluded that the disassembly and removal of the boards from the soccer field was a partial dismantling of a structure and constituted “demolition” within the meaning of Labor Law §240(1).” (Citations omitted). The panel went on to state that “The plaintiff’s role in hauling away the boards after they had been removed by the defendant was an act “ancillary” to the demolition and alteration of the field structure and protected under Labor Law §240(1).”
The Hensel decision serves as a reminder that acts that are related or “ancillary” to the demolition of a structure will be afforded Labor Law §240(1) protection by New York courts.
Thank you to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this post. Please e-mail Andrew Gibbs with any questions.