Intent To Fill Open Trenches Trumps Labor Law Liability

In Salazar v. Novalex, the Court of Appeals looked to reason and logic when it limited Salazar’s ability to recover under Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). While working at a construction site, Salazar stepped into a trench that was partially filled with concrete. He claimed that the trench should have been barricaded or covered to prevent his fall.  In dismissing the Labor Law 240(1) claim, the Court held that the installation of the protective device that Salazar suggested would have been contrary to the objectives of the work plan. Indeed, the trenches needed to be open in order to be filled with cement. The Court similarly dismissed the Labor Law 241(6) claim because the trench, even if considered a hazardous opening, was being filled with concrete at the time. Permitting recovery defied logic since the trench had to be open in order for the work to be competed.