Just Because the Ceiling Fell Does Not Mean Labor Law 240 Applies.

In Flossos v. Waterside Redevelopment Co., plaintiff leaned a closed 4-foot A-frame ladder against a closet door and climbed up to paint without locking the horizontal bars.  While plaintiff was on the ladder, a piece of ceiling fell propelling plaintiff and the ladder to the floor.  Plaintiff sued alleging violations of Labor Law §§ 200, 240(1), and 241(6), and common law negligence.  The lower court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the Labor Law 240 cause of action.  On appeal, the Second Department reversed noting that plaintiff had to “show more than simply that an object fell causing injury.”  Plaintiff had to show (1) at the time the object fell, it was “being hoisted or secured” or had to be secured; and, (2) the object fell “because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device of the kind enumerated in the statute.”  The court found that the ceiling was not “being hoisted or secured” as it was part of the permanent structure of the building, and plaintiff was provided with a ladder that was appropriate for the job.  The court dismissed the Labor Law 240 claim, but did not dismiss the common law negligence claim because the defendants failed to establish that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur did not apply.

Not a complete victory, but with the Labor Law 240 claim out, the defendants can present plaintiff’s comparative negligence (i.e. the closed ladder).

Special thanks to Lora Gleicher for her contribution to this post.  For any questions contact cfuchs@wcmlaw.com.