In Pacheco v. 32-42 55th Street Realty, LLC, the plaintiff was allegedly injured in a fall from a scaffold at a construction site. He commenced an action against the defendants alleging violations of Labor Law §§ 200 and 240(1). The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(5) on the basis that the action was barred by a general release. Plaintiff opposed the motion and cross-moved to preclude the defendants from asserting the general release as an affirmative defense. The Supreme Court denied both motions and the parties appealed.
On appeal, the Second Department affirmed the denial of the defendants' motion. The Court found that the defendants had submitted a general release executed by the plaintiff, which barred the action against them. The Court further found, however, that plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to support a possible finding that the defendants had procured the release through fraud or that the release was signed by plaintiff "under circumstances which indicate unfairness."
The Second Department also affirmed the denial of plaintiff's cross motion. The Court found that the plaintiff had demonstrated that the release was unenforceable due to fraud in the procurement and on the ground that it was not fairly and knowingly made. The Court further found, however, that the defendants had submitted evidence controverting plaintiff's account of how the release came to be signed. These submissions raised a triable issue of fact as to whether the release was enforceable.