Monday, July 2, 2018

Second Department Dismisses Labor Law 240(1) Claim for Injury Caused by Carrying Heavy Steel Beam, But Awards Contractual Defense Costs

In Sullivan v New York Athletic Club of City of N.Y., plaintiff's knee gave out while carrying a heavy beam on his shoulder down a flight of stairs with a co-worker. The plaintiff commenced an action alleging common law negligence and violations of Labor Law §§ 200, 240(1), and 241(6). All motions and cross-motions for summary judgment were denied. On appeal, the Second Department dismissed plaintiff's Labor Law § 240(1) claim, finding that plaintiff’s injury was related to the weight of the beam being carried as opposed to an elevation-related risk. The Court further found that plaintiff could not recover under Labor Law § 240(1) for a fall on a permanent staircase.

In addition, the Court determined that although the third-party plaintiff was entitled to contractual defense costs, it would not be entitled to indemnification since the only remaining claim after the dismissal of plaintiff's Labor Law claims would be a claim for negligence. The Court observed that a party to a construction contract cannot be indemnified for its own negligence. Therefore, the Court held, "the third-party cause of action and cross claim for contractual indemnification asserted against [third-party defendant should be dismissed], except insofar as those causes of action sought defense costs."

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