Considering that both a site owner and a contractor can be held strictly liable under NY Labor Law 240 if construction workers are injured due to their failure to furnish the workers with adequate safety devices, it certainly seems like the defendants in Vann v. YMCA acted foolishly.

In this case, the plaintiff contended that after complaining that he did not feel secure in removing aluminum siding from the owner's adjacent building, and therefore requesting some safety equipment, be it a scaffold or safety lines, he was purportedly told, "You do it or go home."

What happened next is not terribly surprising.

After using a ladder that was available (albeit not anchored), the plaintiff managed to climb onto a 6" wide cinder block wall, but when he turned around, he fell off the wall, sustaining serious personal injuries.

In granting the plaintiff's motion seeking summary judgment on his "scaffold law" claim, the Court held as follows:

"Defendants have not presented any evidence that there were ladders available for [plaintiff']'s use, or even that he would have been able to access the adjacent building with an extension ladder. They have therefore failed to raise an issue of fact as to [plaintiff]'s Labor Law 240(1) claim."

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