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Why Disproving A Construction Site Accident Case Isn't So Simple Under NY Law


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1/11/2010
Jonathan Cooper
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In Cocoli v. Champion Construction Corp., a decision that was just reported on in the New York Law Journal, a construction site worker sued to recover damages for the serious personal injuries he sustained when he opted to use the ladder that was left by another tradesman at his worksite (the ladder he had been provided with was too short). After he reached the top of the ladder, the ladder became unsteady, and ultimately toppled over, carrying the plaintiff with it. And after he hit the ground, the plaintiff noticed that the ladder lacked rubberized footings to keep the ladder from slipping, and that one of the ladder's legs was broken.

From the defendant's perspective, the questions as to why the plaintiff didn't notice these problems before he fell - or before he climbed the ladder - were not only fair game, but, when considered in conjunction with the plaintiff's failure to use one of the other ladders that they had provided, should have led to the dismissal of his case on the grounds that he was a "recalcitrant worker."

The court didn't see it that way, however; since the defendants couldn't prove that the plaintiff disobeyed a specific instruction to use an available safety device that was provided by the employer or to avoid using a particular unsafe device, defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's Labor Law §240(1) claim had to be denied, and the plaintiff was entitled to partial summary judgment.


Category: Construction Site Accidents

Jonathan Cooper
Employment Litigation and School Negligence Lawyer

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