First Department Keeps Defendant’s Exit from Labor Law § 240(1) Claim Grounded

In a recent decision, the Appellate Division, First Department modified a Supreme Court, New York County decision that denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss plaintiff’s Labor Law §§ 240(1), 200 and 241(6) claims. 

In Siegel v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 2024 NY Slip Op 02678 (1st Dep’t 2024), plaintiff was performing work as a construction electrician and was tasked with performing wiring and labeling on an instillation of a baggage handling system at La Guardia Airport in Queens, New York.  To facilitate his work, plaintiff obtained a ten-foot A-frame ladder that was owned by his employer, and plaintiff acknowledged that he inspected the ladder before using it and found no issues.  Plaintiff erected the ladder, locked it in the open position and placed its feet on a level concrete floor.  As he descended the ladder from an elevated platform he was working on, he placed both hands on the sides of the ladder and began to descend while facing the ladder.  He took one or two steps, when the ladder fell to his right, causing both he and the ladder fall to the floor.  Plaintiff did not know why the ladder fell. 

At the conclusion of discovery, defendant, the construction management entity, moved for summary judgment.  It contended that as a construction manager, and not a general contractor, it cannot be held liable under Labor Law § 240(1). 

Defendant’s witness testified during his deposition that the defendant was both a construction manager and general contractor on the project, and that the defendant was responsible for supervising and directing the work, as well as retaining subcontractors, and “was solely responsible for all construction means, methods, sequences and procedures and for coordinating all portions of the work.”  However, the First Department agreed with the lower Court that evidence submitted in support of defendant’s motion created issues of fact about whether it was a statutory agent that possessed sufficient supervisory control over plaintiff’s work.    

While this level of supervision described above created an issue of fact regarding the applicability of § 240(1) to the defendant and their status as statutory agent under § 240(1), the First Department found that the defendant did not have supervisory control over plaintiff’s specific injury-inducing work, and accordingly modified the lower Court’s decision, granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s Labor Law § 200 claim. 

The Siegel decision can be found here.

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