While it is certainly true that New York's worksite safety laws have imposed sweeping liability upon building owners and contractors in an effort to assure worker safety (see, e.g., "How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case in New York") there are still entire genres of cases within this larger realm that New York's courts have dismissed.


One of the most common among these is where the plaintiff worker was injured while engaged in work that an unavoidable and inherent risk of the job itself, like in the Bronx County case of Cabrera v. Sea Cliff Water Co. In that case, the plaintiff and his crew were charged with responsibility for delivering and preparing sheetrock and other building materials to a job site. When the sheetrock and plywood did not fit into the elevator, plaintiff and his coworkers cut them in the hallway. Afterward, when the plaintiff picked up a broom to sweep up the accumulated sheetrock dust and sawdust, he tripped and fell, sustaining serious personal injuries.


In dismissing his action, the appellate court held that "[T]he sheetrock dust and sawdust appear to have been an unavoidable and inherent result of the cutting of the sheet rock and plywood. Where plaintiff was in the very process of sweeping up the dust he and his fellow workers had just created, there is no basis for imposing liability against defendants for his slip and fall."


Likewise, in the cas of Ghany v. BC Tile Contrs., Inc., the plaintiff stonemason was hurt when he tripped over a small stone while carrying a heavy stone weighing approximately 100 pounds across an open, grassy area, causing him to drop this stone on his wrist and knee. Apparently, the smaller stone on which plaintiff tripped was either created during the work being done at the worksite.


In affirming the trial court's dismissal of the case, the appellate court noted that "[T]he small stone on which plaintiff allegedly fell was 'an unavoidable and inherent result' of the work being performed at the site."

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