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Taut Tape Injury Not Within the Ambit of Labor Law 240(1)

December 6, 2018

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In <em>Garcia v. DPA Wallace Avenue I, LLC, et al., </em>the First Department <a href="http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_08254.htm">reaffirmed</a> the lower court’s decision, awarding DPA Wallace summary judgment, and denying plaintiff’s cross motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability on his Labor Law §§ 240(1) and 241-a claims. Garcia, an elevator mechanic, was preparing to dismantle components of an elevator when the "selector tape," a thin strip of metal, broke and "snapped" upwards, cutting his hand. Garcia creatively argued that the tension put on the tape was created by a gravitational force from a weight in the overhead room, which essentially acted as a counterweight to keep the tape taut.  The First Department rejected plaintiff’s argument, noting that the object upon which the force of gravity was applied -- the weight in the overhead room -- was not material being hoisted, nor was it a load requiring securing for plaintiff’s work. Thus, the snapping of the tape was not the result of the gravitational pull, necessary to put the case within the ambit of Labor Law 240(1). The First Department also upheld the dismissal of the Labor Law § 241(6) and Labor Law § 241-a claims since plaintiff was not subject to the overhead hazard of falling objects. While the courts have continually expanded the breadth of Labor Law 240(1), this case reinforces that plaintiffs must prove that their resultant injury stems from a true gravity-related hazard.
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