First Department – Foolishness will not be Rewarded

America is often known as a country where you can sue anybody for anything. While this may be true, bringing suit against others for your own negligent and foolish behavior will not always bring a payday.

While on a lunch break at a construction site, construction worker Donald Kolb watched his supervisor try to force open an elevator door by using a drop key designed to open the locks to elevators. This elevator had been not functioning for the past 2 weeks and the supervisor had no reason to open the door. Kolb took his chance at forcing open the door and was successful. As he turned to receive the praise of his fellow workers, he stepped into the dark elevator shaft, fell 10 feet to the bottom of the pit and suffered multiple injuries.

Kolb filed a negligence claim against the building owner and elevator company that was servicing the elevator at the time. The testimony confirmed that plaintiff repeatedly admitted that he was an “idiot” and did not know what he was thinking when he attempted this maneuver. The First Department agreed and affirmed a Bronx trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the defendants as Kolb had no reason to open the elevator door and no other party was at fault since his actions were independent and unforeseeable.

Special thanks to Chris O’Leary for this post. If you have any questions or comments about this post, please email Paul at pclark@wcmlaw.com.

http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_08357.htm