In Grove v. Cornell University, the plaintiff fell 30 feet from the basket of a motorized boom lift. Although the plaintiff was provided with a safety harness and lanyard, he failed to attach it to the basket before he fell. As a result, he fell through a malfunctioning gate on the basket that if properly working would have been self-closing.
The Third Department split 3-2 with the majority concluding that the safety harness and lanyard was an adequate safety device and that the malfunctioning gate was merely the failure to provide an additional redundant safety device. The majority also concluded that the plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of his injuries. The dissent, however, maintained that the defendant failed to establish that the malfunctioning gate was not a proximate cause of the fall, and so neither party had shown entitlement to summary judgment.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals modified, holding without discussion, that issues of fact remain on whether there was an adequate safety device and whether the plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of his injuries.