Friday, May 30, 2014

Triable issues of fact on a Labor Law claim.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division found in the record triable issues of fact as to how plaintiff's accident occurred, and, therefore, it cannot be concluded, as a matter of law, that the alleged failure to provide him with proper protection proximately caused his injuries. Plaintiff testified that he "fell backwards and the ladder forward," and submitted an affidavit in which he stated that the ladder suddenly went forward and he simultaneously fell backwards, and that he did not become dizzy or lose his balance. However, plaintiff also testified that he opened the ladder and locked it and checked that it was sturdy; that he did not experience any problems with the ladder while he was on it; that he did not remember how he fell off the ladder or know why he fell; and that he did not feel the ladder move before he fell. When asked if he remembered or knew if the ladder shook or wobbled, plaintiff responded, "No."

In addition, plaintiff's employer testified that he situated the ladder just before plaintiff's fall, locked the braces and climbed it himself, and that when he went back into the room after plaintiff fell, the ladder was in the same place as before the accident and was not on the ground. He also testified that plaintiff did not say that there was anything wrong with the ladder that caused him to fall.

These contradictions raise credibility issues which cannot be resolved on a motion for summary judgment.

Student note:  To establish liability under Labor Law § 240(1), a plaintiff must prove a violation of the statute that was the proximate cause of the injury. A fall from a ladder does not, in and of itself, establish that the ladder did not provide appropriate protection.

Case: Campos v. 68 E. 86th St. Owners Corp., NY Slip Op 03747 (1st Dept. 2015)

Here is the decision.

Monday's issue: CPLR 3211(a)(7).