Once again, we turn to the Appellate Division, First Department for our regular reminder that even though a safety device may fail for “no apparent reason,” that still is sufficient to establish liability under New York’s Labor Law § 240(1), otherwise known as “The Scaffold Law.”

In a recent decision, Bialucha v. City of New York, et al., 2023 NY Slip Op 06470 (1st Dep’t 2023), the Appellate Division, First Department modified a Supreme Court, New York County decision that granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff’s Labor Law §§ 240(1) claim. 

In its relatively brief decision, the First Department highlighted plaintiff’s testimony that the scaffold on which he was working at the time of the accident collapsed under him for “no apparent reason,” and that this testimony alone established his prima facie entitlement to partial summary judgment on the issue of liability on his Labor Law § 240(1) claim. 

The First Department also noted that defendants failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition and that their expert’s opinion that the cause of plaintiff’s fall was his alleged failure to properly lock all the scaffold’s pins in place was “conclusory and not supported by anyone with personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding plaintiff’s work at the time of the accident.”  The First Department went further, stating that even if defendants’ expert could establish that plaintiff did not properly engage the scaffold’s safety pins, this would only amount to comparative negligence, which is not a defense under Labor Law § 240(1).

The Bialucha decision can be found here.

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

This article was prepared by McCormick & Priore, P.C. to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers.  This publication is in no way intended to provide legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship.  All Rights Reserved.  This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of McCormick & Priore, P.C.