No One is Above the Labor Law, Not Even the Courts

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court, Richmond County found itself as a defendant in a Labor Law action.  In Ramnarine v. Staten Island Supreme Court, et al. (2024 NY Slip OP 50231(U)), plaintiff alleged that while working on construction of the Staten Island Courthouse, he was injured when a concrete slab being lifted fell onto his left foot.  As a result of the subject incident, plaintiff alleges violation of Labor Law §§ 240(1), 241(6) and 200, as well as common law negligence.

Plaintiff contended in his motion for summary judgment that he qualified as a worker under the labor law, and that he was struck by a falling object that was being lifted as a result of the owner and general contractor to provide proper protective equipment, including hoists, ropes, etc., as enumerated in the statute.  The violation of this statute was a proximate cause of injuries. 

In his motion for summary judgment, plaintiff relies on deposition testimony that established the slab weighed approximately 1,200 pounds, and was 3-4 feet in length, and 12-14 inches thick.  In order to lift the slab just prior to the subject incident, plaintiff attached a nylon strap around the slab, which was then attached to the bucket of the machine being used to lift the slab. Just prior to the subject incident, he heard a clicking noise and was maneuvering the slab to prevent it from swaying when it fell onto his foot. 

The Supreme Court, Richmond County held that plaintiff established that at the time of his injury, he was involved in an elevated and gravity related risk within the contemplation of Labor Law § 240(1).  Plaintiff also established that only a single nylon strap/rope was used to lift a precast concrete slab weighing approximately 1,000-1,400 pounds, without any proper protective equipment such as a sling or additional ropes to prevent the object from falling and striking plaintiff. 

In opposition to plaintiff’s motion, defendant argued that there are questions of fact as to “how” and “why” defendant’s accident occurred.  The Supreme Court rejected these arguments, noting that defendant failed to submit any evidence to contradict the way the accident occurred. Further, defendant’s argument that the slab was improperly constructed was of no consequence, as whether the slab was improperly constructed did not negate defendant’s non-delegable duty as an owner to provide plaintiff with proper protective equipment. 

The Ramnarine decision can be found here.

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

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.