I have to admit, I don't quite understand why a trip and fall incident like this warrants special statutory protection under New York's Labor Law section 241(6), such that a defendant should be held liable as a matter of law simply by virtue of the accident's occurrence. (This statutory section allows for liability to attach if the plaintiff establishes that the defendant violated a particular provision of the Industrial Code. For additional information on this topic, please see "How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case in New York").

In Montes v. Collins Enterprises, a construction worker fell over a doorknob that was left lying on the floor of a project he was working on, and as a result, sustained serious personal injuries.

Following the conclusion of discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the plaintiff's claims, on the grounds that the plaintiff's claims did not fall within the ambit of the worker safety statutes.

In denying the defendants' motion, however, the New York County court stated as follows:

"Industrial Code §23-1.7(e) is meant to protect workers from tripping hazards while working. Subsection 2 specifically enumerates four types of items that workers may fall over: debris, dirt, tools, and materials. While it is clear that a doorknob is not dirt or a tool, it could be considered debris or a material. The drafters of the statute sought to prevent tripping and a round doorknob in the middle of a room may be deemed a tripping hazard by a jury, which is consistent with the intent of the regulation."

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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