In Cohen v. Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the Court of Appeals has rendered a decision that once again demonstrates that not every fall from a ladder triggers liability under Labor Law §240.
Cohen was a construction worker who brought suit against the property owner based on injuries he sustained while installing pipe racks in the ceiling at Sloan-Kettering. Cohen fell when he attempted to climb down the ladder and could not clear the first step because there were pipes protruding from a nearby, unfinished wall. The lower court denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment under the scaffold law, but the Appellate Division reversed ruling that the ladder was not an adequate safety device under the statute. In reversing the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff’s injuries were the result of usual and ordinary dangers at a construction site rather than an elevation-related hazard. The Court further held that no liability exists under the scaffold law where the injury results from a separate hazard wholly unrelated to the risk that brought about the need for the safety device.
Cohen v. Memorial Sloan-Kettering, 2008 WL 4700793 (N.Y.), 2008 N.Y. Slip Op. 08161