SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO CONSTRUCTION WORKER WHO FELL FROM WALKWAY WITH NO GUARD RAILS OR OTHER BARRIERS, WHICH PROVIDED ACCESS TO BUILDING UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Court: Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York

Case: John Burton v. CW Equities, LLC

Date: Feb. 14, 2012

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Queens; Queens accident lawyer)

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Order, Supreme Court, Bronx County (Robert E. Torres, J.), entered October 22, 2010, which, insofar as appealed from as limited by the briefs, denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment as to liability on their Labor Law Sec. 240(1) claim, and denied defendant CW Equities, LLC's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint as against it and for conditional summary judgment on its cross claim for indemnification against defendant T.F.N. Development Corp., unanimously modified, on the law, to grant plaintiffs' motion, and otherwise affirmed, without costs.

Contrary to defendants' contention, the fact that the concrete walkway from which plaintiff John Burton fell was a permanent structure does not remove it from the coverage of Labor Law Sec. 240(1). The walkway provided access to the rear yard of the building under construction, extending over an approximately 15-foot-deep vaulted area below grade level. However, it had no guard rails or other barriers. Thus, "plaintiff's injuries were the direct consequence of a failure to provide adequate protection against a risk arising from a physically significant elevation differential" (see Runner v. New York Stock Exch., Inc., 13 N.Y.3d 599, 603, 895 N.Y.S.2d 279, 922 N.E.2d 865 [2009]).

Since plaintiff's injury did not arise from the method he used to perform his work, but from a dangerous condition of the workplace, it is not dispositive of his Labor Law Sec. 200 claim that CW Equities did not control the work at the building site (see Urban v. No. 5 Times Sq. Dev., LLC, 62 A.D.3d 553, 555, 879 N.Y.S.2d 122 [2009]; Hernandez v. Columbus Ctr., LLC, 50 A.D.3d 597, 598, 857 N.Y.S.2d 84 [2008]). Whether CW Equities had the requisite notice of the dangerous condition is an issue of fact raised by its principal's testimony that he visited the site approximately every other day (see Gordon v. American Museum of Natural History, 67 N.Y.2d 836, 501 N.Y.S.2d 646, 492 N.E.2d 774 [1986]). Similarly, as to plaintiff's common‑law negligence claim, the record presents an issue of fact whether the dangerous condition should have been apparent upon visual inspection (see Urban, 62 A.D.3d at 555, 879 N.Y.S.2d 122).

Although in his bill of particulars plaintiff did not allege a violation of Industrial Code (22 NYCRR) Sec. 23-1.7(b)(1) as a predicate for their Labor Law Sec. 241(6) claim, he identified it in opposition to CW Equities' motion, and CW Equities claims no prejudice from the late invocation of the provision (see Latchuk v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 71 A.D.3d 560, 560-561, 896 N.Y.S.2d 356 [2010]; Noetzell v. Park Ave. Hall Hous. Dev. Fund Corp., 271 A.D.2d 231, 233, 705 N.Y.S.2d 577 [2000]).

The above‑discussed issues of fact as to negligence on CW Equities' part preclude summary judgment on its claim for indemnification (see Vukovich v. 1345 Fee, LLC, 61 A.D.3d 533, 534, 878 N.Y.S.2d 15 [2009] [contractual]; McCarthy v. Turner Constr., Inc., 17 N.Y.3d 369, 377-378, 929 N.Y.S.2d 556, 953 N.E.2d 794 [2011] [common‑law]).