Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This Summer's Notable Labor Law Decisions

During the summer months the Appellate Courts release fewer decisions and release those decisions less frequently.  Below are two notable Labor Law decisions issued this summer. A third case regarding who is an "owner" under the Labor Law will follow in a separate blog entry. 

First Department Looks at Labor Law §240 Claim Where Plaintiff was Injured on Hilltop

In Ankers v Horizon Group, plaintiff was injured on a condominium construction site when a motorized wheelbarrow, which he was standing on, inadvertently rolled down a hill and caused plaintiff to tumble about fifteen feet. Among other claims, plaintiff brought a Labor Law §240(1) claim against defendant. The trial court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the §240 claim and defendant appealed.

Under a Labor Law §240 claim contractors, owners, and their agents are responsible to furnish or erect devices to give proper protection from “gravity related” risks. The issue here was whether the wheelbarrow rolling down the hill was such a risk or an ordinary danger of the work site. The First Department held that because this determination was a genuine issue of fact, summary judgement on the §240(1) claim was improper and reversed the lower court’s decision.

Second Department Finds That Safety Consultant Is Not a Proper Labor Law Defendant

In Marquez v. L&M Dev. Partners, Inc., plaintiff was injured at a construction site when he fell through a plywood covered hole. Pro Safety Services (PSS) had been retained by the owner to provide “loss control and safety consulting services.” PSS solely acted in a consulting capacity and did not have any actual authority to control plaintiff’s work or the condition on which plaintiff was allegedly injured. As such, the Second Department granted summary judgment to PSS dismissing plaintiff’s complaint, finding that PSS was not a “statutory agent” of the owner and therefore not a proper labor law defendant for purposes of Labor Law §§240(1) and 241(6), and PSS’s lack of control over the work and the site conditions also entitled PSS to dismissal of plaintiff’s Labor Law §200 and common law negligence claims.

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