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Employer's Duty To Provide Employee A Safe Workplace Does Not Extend To Inherent Or Obvious Risk

January 25, 2008

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In Monahan v. New York City Department of Education, 2008 NY Slip Op 00241, AD Index 2006-08975, Kings Co. Index 22106/05, the plaintiff, a physical education teacher at a City high school alleges she tripped over a wheel attached to the base of a volleyball net and twisted her ankle after she adjusted a volleyball net improperly set up by another teacher. Both plaintiff and defendants moved for summary judgment, the defendants asserting they breached no duty owed to plaintiff and that the injury occurred while plaintiff performed a task inherent to her employment. The trial court denied all motions.

In reversing the lower court's decision and granting defendants summary judgment, the Appellate Division - Second Department found that while it is an employer's duty to provide its employees a safe place to work, this duty does not extend to hazards which are inherent to the employee's work. Th Appellate Division added that an employer is not obligated to secure the safety of an employee against a condition that may be readily observed, considering the age, intelligence and experience of the employee.

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