The Broad Scope of “The Integral to the Work” Defense is Confirmed in Labor Law Claims
In Ruisech v. Structure Tone Inc., plaintiff was working at a construction site attempting to install a heavy glass divider when he stepped forward to place the glass into the track and stepped on “minute” pebble near the track. His foot slipped forward but he did not fall, yet plaintiff claimed he sustained injuries.
Plaintiff admitted that his co-workers created the debris that was the pebbles during their installation work, therefore the pebbles were created by the manner in which plaintiff’s employer performed its work. Based on this, the court dismissed plaintiffs Labor Law 241(6) claim due to the integral to work defense. The court confirmed that the integral to the work defense applies to things and conditions that are an integral part of the construction, not only to the specific task a plaintiff may be performing at the time of the accident.
The Labor Law 200 claim and common law negligence was also dismissed. Plaintiffs’ employer was a subcontractor hired by a general contractor to perform glass work. The party that leased the 19th floor where plaintiff was working hired the general contractor. The Court dismissed plaintiffs Labor Law 200 claim and common law negligence against the lessee because the lessee did not create the condition at issue, nor did they have notice. The pebbles were created by the plaintiffs’ employers work and were not an existing defect or dangerous condition.
When defending Labor Law claims it will be important to focus on the whole scope of a plaintiff’s employers work, not only what the plaintiff was hired to do.
Thanks to Jennifer Tuz for her contribution to this post. Please contact Heather Aquino with any questions.