Gutter Cleaning Not Covered By Labor Law 240(1), Says NY Appeals Court
Not every type of commercial cleaning is covered by New York's worker safety statutes. At least according to New York's Appellate Division, Second Department.
In Hull v. Fieldpoint Community Assn, Inc., the plaintiff claimed that she had suffered serious injuries after falling from a roof while cleaning out its gutters.
In an opinion that was handed down on October 23, 2013, the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the plaintiff's claims that were predicated on Labor Law 240(1), however, stating:
"Although Labor Law § 240(1) applies to commercial "cleaning" which is not part of construction, demolition, or repair (see Broggy v Rockefeller Group, Inc., 8 NY3d 675), such as commercial window washing and sandblasting (see Swiderska v New York Univ., 10 NY3d 792; Gordon v Eastern Ry. Supply, 82 NY2d 555), it does not apply to work that is incidental to regular maintenance, such as clearing gutters of debris (see Soto v J. Crew, ___NY3d___, 2013 NY Slip Op 06603 ; Berardi v Coney Is. Ave. Realty, LLC, 31 AD3d 590, 591)."
Granted, for this particular plaintiff, this may seem like an unjust result; however, we must also consider the flip side of this coin: you've got to draw the line somewhere before imposing strict or absolute liability on defendants for height and construction related injuries. And "construction, demolition or repair" is probably as good as anything as a place to start.
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