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Not Every Height Triggers 240.

November 14, 2010

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A defendant-favorable outcome in a Labor Law case recently decided by the Court of Appeals, <i>Gasques v. State of New York</i>, 1010 NY Slip Op 07416 (2010):
Plaintiff Wanderlei Gasques was a member of a crew hired to sandblast and repaint the Kosciuszko Bridge. Gasques and his partner were ascending the Brooklyn tower of the bridge on a motorized scaffold. The scaffold had a motor on each end, which was independent of the other motor. On the way up, Gasques’ hose became tangled, so he reached over to the motor on his side to shut off the scaffold. His partner did not shut off his motor on the other side of the platform, causing the platform to tilt, and causing Mr. Gasques’ hand to be crushed between his motor and the bridge. Gasques asserted a number of Labor Law claims including §240(1), which places strict liability on owners and contractors and for injuries caused by falling workers and falling objects.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the Second Department’s dismissal of the §240(1) claim, reasoning that plaintiff’s injury was due to the impetus of the scaffold’s motor, and was not the direct consequence of the application of the force of gravity to an object or a person.
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