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Cart With Sheetrock Not Subject to NY Labor Law Safety Device Requirement

July 11, 2012

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<p align="justify">In <a href="http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_05139.htm"><em>Grygo v. 1116 Kings Highway Realty, LLC</em></a>, the Second Department gave the defendants a rare win in a Labor Law § 240 suit. In this matter, the plaintiff was injured when a cart holding sheetrock toppled over, causing the cart and sheetrock to strike the plaintiff. At the time of the accident the plaintiff was removing a piece of plastic he had previously placed over the cart to protect it while he painted the worksite.</p>
<p align="justify"> The Supreme Court granted the defendants summary judgment dismissing the Labor Law § 240 claim and the Second Department affirmed, finding that the plaintiff’s injuries arose from a general hazard encountered at a construction site and were not from "the direct consequence of a failure to provide" an adequate safety device. The court underscored the point that the safety devices enumerated in § 240 were meant to protect "against a risk arising from a physically significant elevation differential."</p>
<p align="justify"> By highlighting that the safety devices were meant to protect against physically significant elevation differentials, the implication is that Labor Law § 240 should not apply to <em>de minimis</em> differentials. It seems that the Second Department may have thrown defendants a bone, as several recent decisions, particularly in the First Department, have allowed plaintiffs to recover under § 240 where the height differential was minimal.</p>
<p align="justify">Thanks to Gabriel Darwick for his contribution to this post.</p>
<p align="justify">For more information contact Denise Ricci at <a href="mailto:dricci@wcmlaw.com">dricci@wcmlaw.com</a>.</p>
<p align="justify"> </p>

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