Mark O’Donnell Secures Summary Judgment Dismissing New York Labor Law Claim

In a recent decision out of the Supreme Court of New York, Kings County, Mark O’Donnell secured a summary judgment win for his general contractor client in a case involving allegations of violations to New York Labor Laws §§ 200, 240(1) and 241(6), which require construction employers to provide a safe work environment and relates to accidents from heights.

The case involved an alleged accident involving the claimant construction worker, an employee of a third-party, who was retained to install an elevator at the property. It is alleged he was injured when a box believed to have contained elevator doors fell unexpectedly, causing injuries to his legs. Despite a lengthy discovery process, no additional witnesses to the accident were found or deposed.

Plaintiff’s counsel moved for summary judgment, arguing that Labor Law § 240(1) applied as the box was a “falling object” and that both defendants were strictly liable while their client would have no comparative fault attributed to his actions.

Mark successfully argued that:

  • (1) The contractor was not a proper statutory Labor Law defendant due to the fact that there was significant evidence that plaintiff’s employer had contracted directly with the owner;
  • (2) There was no failure to use, or an inadequate safety device as contemplated within § 240(1) as the box had been in situ for a period of time and was not touched at all prior to the accident;
  • (3) The box was not a “falling item” triggering strict liability under § 240(1), and instead was a general occupational hazard of working at a construction site;
  • (4) The § 241(6) claims must be dismissed as the accident didn’t occur in a passageway, stairway or other thoroughfare; and
  • (5) The owner’s claims for contractual and common law indemnity were not triggered as the contractor was not negligent.

After a multi-year period of discovery and motion practice arising from this 2014 incident, our client and their carrier were relieved to hear of the Court’s decision.

With a focus on New York State Labor Law, Mark has extensive experience in taking and defending depositions, substantive success on motion practice at trial and appellate level and has obtained jury defense verdicts.

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