Second Department Gives Us Another Iteration of A Classic Labor Law Fact Pattern

In a recent decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed a Supreme Court, Queens County decision that granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment to dismiss plaintiff’s Labor Law § 240(1) claim. 

In Rzepka v. City of New York, 2024 NY Slip Op 02716 (2d Dep’t 2024), plaintiff was employed as a bricklayer at a renovation project in Queens, with the task of replacing the brick façade on a school building.  To reach the building’s façade, the bricklayers stood on platforms attached to scaffolding that had been erected around the school building.  While plaintiff was standing on a platform attached to the second level of the scaffold, he was struck by several bricks that fell from the roof above where he was working.

While the action was pending, plaintiff died, and his estate was substituted for the plaintiff-decedent.  At the conclusion of discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment to dismiss plaintiff’s Labor Law § 240(1) claim.  The lower Court granted that branch of defendants’ motion finding that the bricks being passed “one by one” were not objects being secured or hoisted, and, moreover, the passing of the bricks one by one, could not have been accomplished if the bricks were secured. 

The Second Department reversed, holding that the defendants failed to eliminate all triable issues of fact as to whether the bricks that struck plaintiff were part of a load that required securing or fell due to the “absence or inadequacy of an enumerated safety device.”

Lastly, the Second Department declined plaintiff’s “invitation” to search the record and award summary judgment to plaintiff on the issue of liability alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1). 

The Rzepka decision can be found here.

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

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