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Telephone Pole Owners Not Necessarily Owners Under Labor Law (NY)

November 11, 2021

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">Villalta</a> v. Consolidated Edison Company of New York, In</em>c., et al, the First Department recently considered the application of Labor Law 240(1) strict liability as it applies to telephone poles. In that matter, the plaintiff was a cable-service repairman who was injured in a fall while inspecting storm-damaged cable equipment. Specifically, he had propped his ladder against a telephone pole owned by Verizon to climb up and inspect the equipment, and then fell.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">At the close of discovery plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on his Labor Law 240(1) claim as against Verizon as the property owner. The motion court denied plaintiff’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. The First Department held that although a telephone pole is a structure within the meaning of Labor Law 240(1), and plaintiff’s work did constitute repairs and/or alterations within the meaning of Labor Law 240(1), there was no evidence that Verizon was an “owner” of the telephone pole within the meaning of Labor Law 240(1) such that Verizon would be subject to strict liability for the plaintiff’s accident. The First Department further held that there was no evidence that the Verizon had contracted for, directed, controlled, or benefitted from the plaintiff’s work – and therefore the First Department modified the motion court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims as against defendant Verizon only.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Shira Straus for her contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.</p>


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