CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT/NEW YORK LABOR LAW LIABILITY

A Brooklyn construction worker was injured when the hoist he was using to raise iron beams dislodged from the third floor and struck him on the ground floor. As a result, the injured worker sustained neck and back injuries, which will require surgery in the future. The New York labor law holds the owner of a building and the general contractor for the construction project strictly liable for injuries to construction workers who are injured when an elevation-related safety device collapses, slips or otherwise fails to perform its function of supporting the workers and their materials. New York Labor Law §240(1) specifically enumerates which safety devices are to be used and mandates that they should be so constructed so as to afford proper protection to the worker. These safety devices include scaffolds, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes and other devices. Under this section of the New York labor law, the injured worker asked the court to find the owner and general contractor responsible for the accident. The owner and general contractor argued that the accident did not occur in the manner that the injured worker claimed the accident happened. They argued that although they were not at the scene at the time of the accident, hoist and pulley equipment were found in a nearby truck and were told by a fellow worker that no work had commenced yet. During our investigation of the accident, we obtained a signed statement from the injured worker's foreman, who confirmed the injured worker's version of the accident. The foreman's signed statement was offered to the court as well. Although both statements would be considered hearsay, we wanted the court to accept the foreman's statement, not to prove how the accident happened but to discredit the unsupported hearsay statement of the fellow worker offered by the owner and general contractor. The court in granting the injured worker's motion specifically rejected the hearsay statement offered by the owner and general contractor and found that under these facts that the improperly secured pulley was a violation of the New York labor law. With the issue of liability (how the accident occurred) resolved completely in the injured worker's favor, the only issues that will need to be decided are the damages (what injuries were sustained as a result of the accident and the monetary value of the pain and suffering of those injuries, past and future along with loss of earnings, homecare expenses and past and future health-related expenses). This case is scheduled to go to trial in late 2010. - Anderson v. Neighborhood Partnership Development Fund Company, Inc. and Mecca Contracting, Inc. - Supreme Court, Kings County, Index No. 3776/08.