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New York Appellate Court Discusses Applicability of Labor Law 200


A defendant seeking summary judgment must establish prima facie entitlement to such relief as a matter of law by affirmatively, with evidence demonstrating the merits of the claim or defense, and not merely by pointing to gaps in plaintiff’s proof.

Labor Law §200 reads: All places to which this chapter applies shall be so constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places. All machinery, equipment, and devices in such places shall be so placed, operated, guarded, and lighted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to all such persons. The board may make rules to carry into effect the provisions of this section.

Owners and general contractors, will be found liable for accidents resulting from unsafe conditions on the owner’s land, if the owner either exercised supervision and control over the activity causing the injury, caused or created the dangerous condition, or had actual or constructive notice of the unsafe condition. However, where the defect or dangerous condition arises from a sub contractor’s methods and the owner or general contractor exercises no control or supervision over the activity at issue, the owner and general contractor will not be liable under Labor Law §200, even if the same had notice of the sub-contractor’s defective methods or the dangerous condition alleged. Stated differently, with respect to the sub-contractor’s improper methods or the use of defective materials, liability is only established when the owner has maintained the ability to control the work giving rise to the personal injury or has actually exercised supervision or control of the same.

For liability to be imposed upon an owner or general contractor, more than general control over the work giving rise to the injury must be established the retention of the right to generally supervise the work, to stop the contractor’s work if a safety violation is noted, or to ensure compliance with safety regulations, does not amount to the supervision and control of the work site necessary to impose liability on an owner or general contractor pursuant to Labor Law §200.

All contractors and owners and their agents who contract for but do not direct or control the work, in erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure shall furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected for the performance of such labor, scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed.

It is also well settled that Labor Law §240(1) does not when the falling object alleged to have caused plaintiff injury was being neither hoisted or secured at the time of the accident. Thus, the court limited the applicability of Labor Law §240(1), as it relates to falling objects, to cases where the object is being hoisted or secured. In a case, the court went on to reiterate that Labor Law §240(1) applies only to those falling object cases where the objects are improperly hoisted or secured. More importantly, the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment finding that Labor Law §240(1) did not apply to that case where plaintiff was injured when a ladder he was attempting to remove fell causing him injury.

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