<p style="text-align: justify;">New York Labor Law, colloquially called the Scaffold Law, has been a windfall for plaintiffs. Under §240(1) of the law, owners and general contractors are strictly liable when a worker is injured due to a gravity related risk. The case of <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Henriquez-v.-Clarence-P.-Grant-Hous.-Dev.-Fund-Co.-Inc..pdf">Henriquez v. Clarence P. Grant Hous. Dev. Fund Co., Inc.</a> </em>reminds us that there are still limitations and defenses to these expensive claims.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em>Henriquez</em>, plaintiff allegedly sustained injuries when a plank of wood fell on his head as he was dismantling a scaffold. He moved for summary judgment and was denied. The Second Department affirmed the denial.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">To prevail in a falling object case, the court affirmed that the plaintiff must demonstrate that at the time the object fell, it was either being hoisted or secured, or required securing for the purposes of the undertaking. In addition, it must be shown that the object fell because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device enumerated in the statute. In this case, plaintiff’s evidence failed to establish that the plank fell because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Plaintiffs often believe that the occurrence of a gravity-related accident will automatically lead to summary judgment. However, these are fact specific inquiries and summary judgment is never guaranteed. While comparative fault is not a defense to these actions, a question of fact may still be raised to defeat summary judgment.</p>
Thanks to Mehreen Hayat for her contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="mailto:Haquino@wcmlaw.com">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.