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Risk of Falling Masonry Subject to 240 Claim

December 15, 2010

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A New York motion court has held that falling masonry and other structural components, unsecured as a part of demolition work, is not an inherent or ordinary risk of the workplace and is therefore covered by the Labor Law §240(1) statute.
In Castro v. JK USA Group, Inc., (19396/08), plaintiff, a demolition worker who was in the process of dismantling a wall by striking cement blocks with a hammer, allegedly sustained injuries when a co-worker ”hit something" that caused a cement block to fall on plaintiff's left hand. Kings County Justice Jack Battaglia held that defendants are not entitled to a dismissal of Labor Law §240(1) claims on the grounds that the falling objects were not being hoisted or secured at the time they fell and there was a minimal height difference between where the brick was situated and where it struck the plaintiff.
The court added that defendants failed to establish that the cement block did not "require securing for the purposes of the undertaking" or that there was any protective device designed to catch the cement blocks as the wall was being dismantled. Rulings such as these continue to expand the scope of strict liability Labor Law claims owner defendants face in New York.
Special thanks to Chris O’Leary for this post. If you have any questions or comments, please email Paul at <a href=""></a>
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