Regular Maintenance Does Not Qualify For Labor Law Action (NY)

A fall from an elevated height, due to work that is incidental to regular maintenance does not create a cause of action under Labor Law § 240(1).

In Hull v. Fieldpoint Community Assn., Inc., plaintiff was allegedly injured when she fell from a roof while she was cleaning out leaves from the roof gutters of a residence in a condominium development.  Her work was performed pursuant to a contract between her employer and the defendant Fieldpoint Community Association, Inc., requiring her employer to clean gutters and leaders, inspect, and caulk openings three times per year.

The defendants moved for summary judgment on plaintiff’s Labor Law § 240(1) claim, and plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability.  The Appellate Division, Second Department, upheld the lower court’s decision in granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and in effect denying plaintiff’s motion.  The Court held that although Labor Law § 240(1) applies to commercial “cleaning” which is not part of construction, demolition, or repair, such as commercial window washing and sandblasting, it does not apply to work that is incidental to regular maintenance, such as clearing gutters of debris.  Therefore, the defendants established, prima facie, their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law with respect to the cause of action pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1).

Hull established that people performing regular maintenance at an elevated height better take precautions, as there will be no cause of action under the Labor Law.

Special thanks to Johan Obregon for his contribution.

For more information contact Denise Fontana Ricci at dricci@wcmlaw.com.