First Department Finds UFOs Sufficient to Uphold Labor Law § 240(1) Claim

In a recent decision, the Appellate Division, First Department modified a lower court order that denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as to Labor Law § 240(1), and denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint. 

In Harsanyi v. Extell 4110, LLC., 198 N.Y.S.3d 37, 220 A.D.3d 528 (1st Dep’t 2023), plaintiff alleged that he was struck on the head and neck by an unknown object while working on an outrigging platform on the 25th floor of the subject building, which was under construction.  Plaintiff testified that, just prior to the subject incident, he heard workers stripping wood on the floor above him.  Plaintiff also submitted photographs depicting a large hole in the safety netting that served as overhead protection from that activity. 

The First Department held that plaintiff’s submissions established prima facie entitlement to summary judgment on his Labor Law § 240(1) claim.  It further rejected defendants’ argument, and the lower court’s reasoning, that the fact that plaintiff could not identify the object that struck him, or its origin, precluded summary judgment in favor of plaintiff.  Rather, plaintiff is not required to show the exact circumstances under which the object fell, where a lack of protective device proximately caused the injuries.  Further, the First Department held that a prima facie case for Labor Law § 240(1) liability, where the action involves falling objects, is not dependent on whether plaintiff observed the object that hit him. 

Defendants failed to provide any version of the accident under which they could not be held liable, making summary judgment appropriate.

The Harsanyi decision can be found here.

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

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