In a recent decision, the Appellate Division, First Department upheld a lower Court decision dismissing plaintiff’s claims based on Labor Law §§ 200, 240(1) and 241(6), but modified the portions of the lower Court decision, reinstating plaintiff’s common-law negligence claim. 

In Yousuf v. Horace Plaza, LLC., 2023 NY Slip Op 04492 (1st Dep’t 2023), plaintiff fell from a ladder while replacing two ceiling tiles in the Dunkin’ Donuts store where he was employed as a manager.  Plaintiff brought causes of action alleging violations of Labor Law §§ 200, 240(1), 241(6), and common-law negligence.  At the conclusion of discovery, defendants moved for summary judgment and plaintiff cross-moved.  The lower Court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint and denied plaintiff’s cross-motion. 

In its decision, the First Department upheld the lower Court’s decision to dismiss plaintiff’s Labor Law claims on the following bases:

  • Labor Law § 241(6) only applies to only a narrow class of protected workers engaged in constructing or demolishing buildings in areas in which construction, excavation or demolition work is being performed. As no construction, excavation, or demolition was going on at the time of the accident, he is not protected by Labor Law § 241(6). 
  • The Labor Law § 240(1) claim was properly dismissed because plaintiff’s work because his work as a store manager did not involve performing “construction, alteration, demolition, or similar labor” and the company he worked for “did not regularly undertake enumerated duties under the Labor Law.”
  • Plaintiff’s Labor Law § 200 claim arose from the “method of work” involving an inadequate ladder, but the defendants exercised no supervisory control over the work, and therefore no liability attached under Labor Law § 200.

With regard to the common-law negligence claim, the First Department held there was a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendants had constructive notice of the unsafe ceiling leak and if the leak proximately caused plaintiff’s accident, due to the fact that plaintiff alleged the leak created a slippery condition on the ladder and thus neither party had established prima facie entitlement to summary judgment. 

Note here that the lower Court’s rulings on Labor Law §§ 240(1) and 241(6) were upheld on grounds relating to the “work” that plaintiff had been performing was not protected under the statutes.  The reasoning on Labor Law § 200 focuses instead on the defendant’s control over the work.  Absent from the decision by the First Department is any indication that they considered whether the subject Dunkin’ Donuts did not qualify as a “worksite” the statute was designed to protect. 

The Yousuf decision can be found here.

For additional questions, please contact Michael J. Shields, Esq. and/or Philip D. Priore, Esq.

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