Danger Invites Rescue Doctrine Now Pertains to Labor Law §241(6) in the First Department (NY)
The First department has addressed for the first time whether the rescue doctrine applies to Labor Law § 241(6) claims in Leonard v. City of New York, 2023 NY Slip Op 02589 (1st Dep’t May 11, 2023).
Plaintiff was injured on a construction project when he climbed into the trench walls to aid his coworker that was stuck under a collapsed steel beam. Plaintiff filed suit alleging violations of New York Labor Law § 241(6). To state a claim under 241(6), plaintiff must allege a specific Industrial Code regulation violation.
Defendants moved for summary judgment arguing that no one in authority directed plaintiff to lift the beam and his choice to do so was the sole proximate cause of injuries, and that plaintiff himself was not injured due to the violation of the cited Industrial Codes. Plaintiff opposed arguing that there was a question of fact as to whether the danger invites rescue doctrine applied. The rescue doctrine establishes a duty of care toward a potential rescuer.
The lower court granted defendants summary judgment rejecting any application of the rescue doctrine. The New York appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision granting defendant’s summary judgment motion dismissing the New York Labor Law § 241(6) claims against them. The court held that rescue doctrine under Labor Law § 241(6) does apply and it is up to the jury to determine whether plaintiff’s rescue attempt was reasonable course of conduct at the time.
Both the Second and Fourth Departments have applied the rescue doctrine to Labor Law § 241(6) claims, now the First Department has joined. This will expand the claims eligible under Labor Law § 241(6).
Thanks to Jennifer Tuz for her contribution to this post. Please contact Heather Aquino with any questions.