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New York Appellate Court Reinstates Labor Law Claim in Construction Accident Lawsuit

Syracuse construction accident lawsuits can be challenging. They typically involve multiple parties and multiple theories of liability. It is important to have quality legal representation if you have been hurt on a job site due to the negligence of a property owner, general contractor, or subcontractor.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case appealed from the Supreme Court of Niagra County, New York, the plaintiff was a man who fell through a hole in a subfloor while performing framing work on a residential construction project. At the time of his injury, the plaintiff was working for a separate contractor, who was not a party to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff filed suit against the defendants, the owner of the property and a contractor who worked on the project, asserting a claim based on common law negligence and alleged violation of New York Labor Law §§ 200, 240(1), 241(6). The plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment as to the defendants’ liability on some of his claims. The defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment.

The trial court granted the denied the plaintiff’s motion and granted it part/denied in part the defendant’s motions.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, modified the lower court’s order, thereby denying the contractor’s cross motion for summary judgment and reinstating the plaintiff’s claim against it. In the appellate court’s opinion, the trial court had acted properly in granting the summary judgment to the property owner with respect to the plaintiff’s causes of action under New York Labor Law §§ 240(1), 241(6) because the property owner had met his burden of establishing, as a matter of law, that neither he nor anyone under his supervision controlled the methods or means of the plaintiff’s work; rather, it was the plaintiff’s employer who instructed him as to how to complete his work.

While the appellate court did not agree with the plaintiff’s contention that rejecting his liability claim against the property owner necessarily implicated liability against the contractor, the court did side with the plaintiff as to the trial court’s ruling on his § 240(1) claim against the contractor. According to the court, the lower tribunal committed reversible error in holding that the plaintiff was not engaged in an activity protected by this section at the time of the accident. Because questions of fact existed as to whether the contractor had the requisite authority to control and/or supervise the plaintiff’s work, further proceedings were necessary, and the case was remanded.

Schedule a Consultation with a Syracuse Construction Injury Attorney

Construction workers often face very dangerous working conditions. In just a few seconds, a worker can go from being a healthy, hard-working breadwinner to a permanently disabled person who will have to depend on others for care for weeks, months, or even for the rest of his of her life. If you or a loved one has been hurt on the job, the helpful Syracuse construction accident team at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, is here to help. We offer a completely free, no-obligation case evaluation. All you have to do to get started is call us at 315-479-9000, and we’ll do the rest!

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