First Department Cites Hindsight in Determining “Foreseeability”

Labor Law plaintiffs in Bronx County, New York cannot stop falling through floors.

In a recent decision, the Appellate Division, First Department unanimously upheld a Supreme Court, Bronx County decision that granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgement as to his Labor Law § 240(1) claim, and denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s Labor Law §§ 240(1), 241(6), 200, and common-law negligence claims. 

In Mata v. 371 1st Street, LLC, et al., 2024 NY Slip Op 02148, plaintiff was engaged in the demolition of flooring when suddenly, the subfloor below the flooring he was demolishing collapsed, causing him to fall several stories and onto a scaffold below. 

Defendants maintained, in their motion, that the accident was not foreseeable because nothing presented at the subject site would indicate an unsound floor structure, and that Labor Law § 240(1) should therefore not apply. 

The lower Court disagreed, finding that the scope of the rehabilitation at the subject premises, which the defendants planned to renovate and resell (read: flip), fell under the protection of Labor Law § 240(1), and the defendants’ failure to provide proper protection to workers for the elevated work being performed at the subject site constituted a violation of the statute. 

The First Department agreed with the lower Court, and specifically disagreed with the defendants’ contention that the accident was unforeseeable.  The First Department found that even if they considered the subflooring to be a permanent structure, in light of the condition of the building as depicted in photographs taken soon after the accident, and given that plaintiff was engaged in pulling up nailed boards from the subflooring using a crowbar, the accident was foreseeable.

The Mata decision can be found here.

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

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