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NY's Highest Court To Decide Novel Issues Regarding Construction Site Accident Cases


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6/21/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Anyone who's read my articles or blogs knows by now that I'm not a fan of those personal injury and accident attorneys who bring lawsuits that clearly lack a coherent theory of liability simply because their potential client has sustained very serious injuries, and they just see dollar signs (see, e.g., "Why Some Construction Site Accident Cases Should Never See The Inside Of A Courtroom").

But there is a flip side to that coin; I appreciate and admire attorneys who think outside the box, and creatively apply established precedents to new factual scenarios. One such example is in the case of Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, Inc. In this case, the plaintiff sustained serious personal injuries when he was pulled down a flight of stairs and into a pipe by a pulley system that his fellow construction workers and he had devised to bridge that flight of stairs. In order to appreciate the novelty of plaintiff's attorneys' argument in this case, some background is necessary.

At the risk of redundancy, construction site accidents are governed by New York's Labor Laws, which means that the workers are afforded statutory protection for the injuries that they sustain as the result of the worker's height-related risk (such as on a scaffolding), or from an object that fell from a height. In this particular case, the plaintiff's attorneys asserted that the plaintiff's injuries were caused directly by the effects of gravity, and therefore should be deemed an elevation-related risk that is covered by the statute. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals (New York's appellate branch of the Federal Courts) conceded that the application of New York's Labor Laws to these facts was indeed novel, and therefore, pursuant to their inherent power, sent this question over to the highest State Court in New York: the Court of Appeals on June 10. 

Regardless of the Court's answer to this question, the plaintiff's attorneys should be lauded for their efforts. Job well done!

Category: Construction Site Accidents

Jonathan Cooper
Employment Litigation and School Negligence Lawyer

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