Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Court of Appeals Reverses First Department On Issue of Whether Plaintiff Was Sole Proximate Cause of His Fall From Scaffold and Grants Plaintiff Summary Judgment

We had previously reported that the First Department had found questions of fact regarding sole proximate cause in a Labor Law § 240(1) action in Batista v. Manhattanville College. Subsequently, the First Department granted leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals.  On appeal, the High Court reversed and granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff. See our original entry below for the facts of the case.

In Batista v. Manhattanville College, the plaintiff was injured in a fall from a scaffold that he was constructing. Plaintiff had been instructed to use only pine planks for the flooring and to check the planks for knots. He fell two stories from the scaffold when an alleged spruce plank that he was standing on broke.

On motions for summary judgment the trial court granted plaintiff partial summary judgment on liability pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1), finding that the scaffold failed to provide plaintiff with proper protection. On appeal, the First Department reversed and denied the motion. The Court found that whether plaintiff disregarded instructions to use only pine planks and whether more pine planks were readily available to him were questions of fact. The Court also found that whether plaintiff was responsible for checking the planks for knots was also a question of fact.    

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