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Intoxicated NY House Painter Falls Off His Own Ladder - and Sues


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8/24/2010
Jonathan Cooper
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Sometimes I am just baffled by the lawsuits that people bring.

In the Suffolk County case of Berman v. Franchise Distributors, the plaintiff was hired to power wash and then paint a private house. In the process of power washing the side of the house, he fell off of the ladder that he had brought to the worksite. Those facts are not in dispute.

There are some interesting facts that were testified to by a non-party witness that add a great deal of inrigue to the case, though: apparently, this witness observed the plaintiff drinking more than a few beers (and had offered this witness a beer as well), and was drunk at the time he fell off the ladder - his ladder. In fact, the hospital records following the accident confirm that he was inebriated.

So, even though the plaintiff's claims under New York Labor Law 240(1) (which imposes liability on property owners for failing to provide adequate safety devices for elevation-related hazards) have survived dismissal - at least for now - I wonder how the plaintiff's attorneys intend to convince any jury in New York that the homeowner should be held responsible for this accident.

I readily admit, I can't think of a convincing argument on that point.

Category: Construction Site Accidents


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