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Does Unloading Gas Line Pipes Off A Trailer Fall Under §240(1) Of The Labor Law? (NY)

April 21, 2023

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Section 240 of New York Labor Law involves liability for injuries of construction workers who suffer a fall or are struck by a falling object. Liability is contingent upon the existence of an elevation hazard contemplated in §240(1) and the failure to use, or the inadequacy of, a safety device.

In <em><a href="">Castano v. Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC</a>,</em> 213 A.D.3d 905 (2d Dep’t 2023), the Appellate Division, Second Department recently addressed whether §240(1) applied in a case where a worker was injured while working on a project to replace a section of an interstate natural gas pipeline beneath the Hudson River. Plaintiff testified that at the time of the accident, he was unloading pipes that weighed approximately 1,000 pounds each from a flatbed trailer. After he secured one of the pipes with a “choker” strap, a coworker lifted the pipe using a CAT excavator, the pipe dropped and struck the plaintiff’s leg. Plaintiff sued the pipeline owner and general contractor asserting various Labor Law claims.

The defendants moved for summary judgment seeking a dismissal of the Labor Law §240 (1) claim, and plaintiff cross-moved on the issue of liability under the same provision. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, denied plaintiff’s cross-motion, and plaintiff appealed.

The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the trial court granting defendants’ motion as to the §240(1) claim, holding that the defendants failed to eliminate all triable issues of fact concerning that claim. In reaching its determination and focusing on applicability of the statute to falling objects, the Court reasoned that a plaintiff must show when the object fell it was being hoisted, secured, or needed securing for purposes of the undertaking. Further, the Court determined that a plaintiff must also show the object fell because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device of the kind enumerated in the statute. With these considerations, the Court found the defendants failed to establish, prima facie, their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on this claim.

This case serves as a reminder that while certain tasks such as removing items off a flatbed trailer may not seem to fall within the purview of the Labor Law, accidents involving falling objects can trigger liability and courts will examine the facts to determine whether a plaintiff can meet the statutory requirements.

Please contact <a href="">John Diffley</a> with any questions.


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