A New York appeals court ruled Tuesday that the defendants in an employment action were entitled to summary judgment dismissing the worker’s claim based on his alleged fall from a bucket he was using as a ladder.
In February 2014, Angel Morales filed a lawsuit against 50 North First Partners LLC and Bayport Construction Corp. for injuries he allegedly sustained while working at an under-construction Brooklyn apartment complex owned by 50 North. Mr. Morales asserted claims for negligence and labor law violations, according to Morales v. 50 N. First Partners LLCfiled in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department at Brooklyn, New York.
According to Morales, his job was to install stacked washers and dryers in apartments. He claimed he was standing on an inverted bucket to reach the power cord of a device he had just pushed into a closet when the bucket slid out from under him and he fell.
The defendants moved for the judgment to be dismissed, which a judge granted.
In affirming, the Court of Appeals explained that the protections afforded by state labor law extend only to a narrow class of special hazards connected with the effects of gravity and that liability does not apply when the plaintiff did not need protection from the effects of gravity. to carry out their work. The court added that when the plaintiff̵7;s actions are the only proximate cause of his injuries, liability does not apply.
The record indicated that Morales was the only proximate cause of his injuries, as a ladder was not necessary for him to perform his work. Prior to the alleged accident, Morales testified that he had installed approximately 20 stacked washers and dryers without using a ladder. He also testified that the units had wheels, so he could have moved the washer/dryer out of the closet instead of standing on a bucket to reach the power cord.
The court said the defendants were entitled to dismissal of the workplace safety and negligence claims and that the record established that the defendants had no authority to supervise or control the performance of Morales’ work.
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