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A Lift Is Not A Safety Device In NY Labor Law

October 28, 2022

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In <em><a href="">Carlson v. Tappan Zee Constructions, LLC.</a>, et al.</em> Index No. 58719/2019, the Hon. Damaris E. Torrent denied a plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability under Labor Law §240(1). Plaintiff was working on an aerial boom lift attached to a barge when the wakes of two passing boats had caused the barge to rock. As a result, the lift platform swung and crashed into a concrete tower, causing plaintiff to be tossed about inside the basket on top of the lift. It was undisputed that plaintiff did not fall and that no object fell.

Plaintiff argued that the subject lift was a safety device within the meaning of Labor Law § 240(1), which required the lift to be constructed, placed, and operated to provide proper protection, and the lift failed to meet this standard. He further agued the fact he did not fell, or nothing fell on him was immaterial to establish a § 240(1) claim; his injuries were a direct result of the application of the force of gravity. In opposition, defendants argued that plaintiff’s accident was not the type contemplated by the statute, and the statute was not intended to address every injury which occurs while a worker is working at a height.

While the Court acknowledged it has been held a fall is not required under § 240(1), the Court still denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, finding that plaintiff at all times remained secured inside the basket and there was no contention the lift failed to operate as intended. Additionally, plaintiff failed to establish that large boats speeding was a foreseeability risk inherent in the work he was performing at the time of the accident. This case demonstrates that a hazard unrelated to the elevation risk is not sufficient to bring a § 240(1) claim.

Thanks to Gina Rodriguez for her contribution to this article.  Should you have any questions, contact <a href="">Matthew Care</a>.


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