Court Grants Defendant Contractor Summary Judgment Dismissing Plaintiff’s Complaint and All Cross-Claims

In a decision dated January 20, 2015, Justice Paul Wooten granted our client Owen Steel Company Inc.’s motion for summary judgment which sought a dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint including those causes of action for common law negligence and violations of Labor Law §§200, 240(1) and 241(6). The plaintiff was an iron worker who allegedly fell off the side of a pickup truck while performing work for his employer, P.I.I. LLC, in connection with the John Jay College Expansion Project. The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the owner of the premises, hired multiple prime contractors, including Sea Crest Construction Corp., for general contracting services, and Owen for miscellaneous iron work. Owen subcontracted the iron work to Hillside Ironworks, which then hired plaintiff’s employer, P.I.I., to provide the actual labor for the work. The Court held that the Labor Law §240 cause of action should be dismissed for several reasons. First, it found that plaintiff’s own negligence was the sole proximate cause of his accident. It also found §240(1) was not applicable because plaintiff’s fall from the side of a utility truck while loading a ladder onto it was not an elevation-related risk. Additionally, the Court found the plaintiff failed to establish that the circumstances at the time of his accident warranted the protection of the type of safety equipment enumerated in the statute. Finally, the Court held that §240(1) was not applicable because a gravity-related hazard was not created when another ladder that had already been loaded and bungee-corded to the truck slid horizontally and struck the plaintiff in his chest after he untied the bungee cord. The Court dismissed plaintiff’s Labor Law §241(6) claim because the Industrial Code Rule relied on by him, 12 NYCRR 23-1.7(e) (“Tripping and other hazards”), was not applicable because his accident did not involve a trip. The Court also held that Labor Law §241(6) was inapplicable because plaintiff was not engaged in an enumerated activity inasmuch as he was merely loading ladders onto a truck to deliver them to another job site. Plaintiff’s common law negligence and Labor Law §200 claims were dismissed against the owner and construction manager because they did not supervise or control the plaintiff’s loading of the ladders onto the truck and did not have actual or constructive notice of a debris condition which plaintiff claimed caused the accident. The Court also held that the debris condition did not cause the accident. In addition, all claims for contractual indemnification, common law indemnification, contribution and breach of contract to procure insurance against Owen were dismissed.

Guido v. The Dormitory Auth. of the State of N.Y., Index No. 113126/10 (N.Y. Co. Sup. Ct., Jan. 20, 2015)

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