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Court Declines To Expand Applicability of Labor Law §240(1)

January 5, 2009

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In yet another ruling that limits the applicability of Labor Law §240, the Second Department recently affirmed the lower court’s decision that granted the defendant summary judgment even though the plaintiff’s accident involved a fall in an elevated area. In <i>Rau v. Bagels N Brunch</i>, the plaintiff was hired to install the defendant’s security system. In order to access the attic, he used a ladder already standing beneath an opening in the drop ceiling. Once in the attic, however, in order to run wires for the system, the plaintiff decided to walk along the metal studs, rather than working from below the drop ceiling which would have required going up the ladder, removing the ceiling tiles, installing the wires, then coming down the ladder and moving it to the next area. As he walked along the studs he lost his balance and fell. The plaintiff argued that since his job required him to work in an elevated area Labor Law 240 applied. The Second Department concluded that the plaintiff's accident did not occur because he was in an elevated area and held that although Labor Law 240(1) provides protection for workers against the “special hazards” that arise when the work site itself is elevated "these special hazards do not encompass any and all perils that may be connected in some tangential way with the effects of gravity."
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