Scaffold Fall Results in Summary Judgment for Plaintiff Under Labor Law § 240(1)

Last Friday the Appellate Division, Fourth Department issued a short but sweet (for plaintiffs) Labor Law § 240 (1) decision.

In Signs v. Crawford, plaintiff sustained injuries at a construction site owned by defendant “when a metal plate that was being hoisted by a jib fell and caught plaintiff’s glove, causing him to fall from scaffolding.”

The trial court denied defendant’s, and granted plaintiffs’, motions for summary judgment.  The appellate court affirmed both decisions.

The court held that since the metal plate fell and struck plaintiff “because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device of the kind enumerated in Labor Law § 240(1) … the harm to plaintiff flowed directly from the application of the force of gravity.”

It rejected defendant’s contention that plaintiff’s actions were the sole proximate cause of the accident, reasoning that “Plaintiff’s actions in attempting to prevent the metal plate from falling raise, at most, an issue of comparative negligence, which is not an available defense under section 240(1).”

Finally, the court rejected defendant’s contention “that the accident here was caused by a hazard unrelated to the safety device” since “[t]he work being performed by plaintiff involved an elevation-related risk and not a usual and ordinary risk of a construction site to which the extraordinary protections of Labor Law § 240(1) do not extend.”

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