Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Second Department Finds Question of Fact As to Sole Proximate Cause Where Plaintiff Chose Ladder

In Cioffi v. Target Corp., the plaintiff was working from a scissor lift in a stock room when he completed his work for the day.  After removing the scissor lift from the stock room, he realized that he had left his tool belt at the elevated work site.  Instead of moving the scissor lift back to the location, or obtaining a ladder supplied to him by his employer that was located in a nearby storage container, the plaintiff elected to use a ladder available inside the stock room.  He was injured when the ladder "kicked out" or buckled underneath him and he fell.

The Second Department reversed summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that it could not be demonstrated, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff was negligent in choosing to use the ladder available inside the stock room.  The Court further found that it had not been demonstrated that the plaintiff was recalcitrant, in that the defendants failed to establish that the plaintiff had been instructed to use only his employer's ladders.  The Court declined to grant summary judgment to the plaintiff, however, finding that a question of fact existed as to whether his decision to use the ladder was the sole proximate cause of his accident.   

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