Carpenter Injured At Construction Site Can Sue Where Form Used For Concrete Pour Fell On Him

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

Case: Glenford Morris v. Pavarini Construction

Date: Sept. 4, 2012

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

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Background: This construction accident injury case has been up and down with court decisions and appeals. The issue is one of interpreting N.Y.S. Labor Law regulations, which are designed to protect construction workers. Now the accident victim is appealing a lower court's decision dismissing his claim.

Facts: This accident occurred when a carpenter was injured because a metal wall, 30 feet high by 30 feet wide and weighing more than one ton, serving as the back wall of a concrete form, fell and damaged his hand. A form is how concrete is molded into different shapes. In this case, the form had two metal walls with a space. Into the space is poured the concrete, which hardens. After the concrete hardens, the forms are taken apart.

Whether the carpenter can sue for this accident hinges on a New York State regulation which requires that construction site forms "be properly braced or tied together so as to maintain position and shape." The issue is if the form has to be finished before an accident victim can sue, or if a form being built that injures another can serve as a basis for a personal injury accident case. The defense argued that the regulation only applied to completed forms for liability in a personal injury accident case.

Held: The majority and controlling opinion found that it would make no sense only to apply the regulation to forms under construction -- because they are dangerous while they are being erected and need top be kept stable while they are being built, and also while waiting for the concrete to dry.

Dissent: Disagrees and would decide that the regulation only applies only to completed forms and not here, where one wall of a form was erected when it toppled on the accident victim.

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