Cut Wood Comes Back for Vengeance

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

In Cevallos v. WBB Construction, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 02297 (2d Dep’t 2024), plaintiff alleged that he was assigned to cut a particular piece of wood, which was elevated off of the ground, while employed at a construction site.  Before beginning work, plaintiff determined he needed a ladder to reach the wood to perform his work.  He found an A-frame ladder in his general work area and set it up at the location where the subject wood was located.  After climbing to the second rung from the top of the A-frame ladder, plaintiff cut the wood, which then fell, striking the plaintiff in the leg, and then striking the ladder, causing both plaintiff and the ladder to fall. 

At the conclusion of discovery, plaintiff moved for summary judgment on his Labor Law § 240(1) claim.  The Supreme Court, Queens County granted plaintiff’s motion and the Second Department affirmed, holding that plaintiff established his prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as to his § 240(1) claim by establishing via his deposition testimony that he was directed to cut a piece of wood that was above his head, he determined that he needed a ladder to cut the wood, and upon ascending the ladder and cutting the wood, the wood struck the plaintiff and the ladder, causing both to fall to the ground. 

In opposition, defendants failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether plaintiff’s actions were the sole proximate cause of the subject incident.

The Cevallos decision can be found here.  

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

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