Thursday, September 20, 2012

Second Department Re-Affirms the Principle That Whether An Object Is A "Structure" Within the Meaning of the Labor Law Requires A Fact-Specific Inquiry

In McCoy v. Kirsch, the plaintiff was injured in a fall from a ladder while dismantling a "chupah," a canopy under which brides and grooms stand during weddings conducted in the Jewish religious tradition.  After noting that the Court of Appeals indicated long ago that "the word 'structure' in its broadest sense includes any production or piece of work artificially built up or composed of parts joined together in some definite manner" (Caddy v Interborough R.T. Co., 195 NY 415, 420), the McCoy Court cited various cases in which the Labor Law was applied to "several diverse items" found to be such structures and other various cases in which the object at issue was found to not be a structure.  The Court indicated, therefore, that: "[w]hether an item is or is not a 'structure' is fact-specific and must be determined on a case-by-case basis. In determining each case, courts may consider a number of relevant factors. These factors should include, but are not necessarily limited to, the item's size, purpose, design, composition, and degree of complexity; the ease or difficulty of its assembly and disassembly; the tools required to create it and dismantle it; the manner and degree of its interconnecting parts; and the amount of time the item is to exist. However, no one factor should be deemed controlling."

In McCoy, the Court affirmed summary judgment in the plaintiff's favor, finding that this particular chupah, which was constructed of interconnected pipes, wood and fabric, all of which were secured to steel metal bases and required a ladder and hand tools to dismantle, was a structure within the meaning of the Labor Law, but the Court further indicated that another less durable, merely decorative chupah or other object, might not be considered such a structure.   

No comments:

Post a Comment