Michael Widdecombe v. Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. and EGK Realty, LLC, 74 Misc.3d 351

New York Labor Law § 240 claims dismissed because the means of injury did not involve a gravity-related risk.

The Supreme Court of New York, County of New York granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, dismissing the plaintiff’s New York Labor Law § 240(1) claim. The plaintiff, a repair person, was ascending a staircase in a building in order to repair a gas leak when a plywood board affixed overhead struck his head. The court granted the defendants’ motion because there was no elevation-related risk. The court found that this incident was based on an upward force and that the plywood caused him to lose his balance rather than the staircase itself. 

Despite the court dismissing the plaintiff’s claims, the court did hold that repairing a gas leak would be considered a “covered activity” under the state’s Labor Law based on work that requires excavating throughout the street, disassembling lines and conducting pressure test. The court also determined that a staircase would be considered a “safety device” because it was the sole means of access to a designated work area. 

This case demonstrates that the court will find a broad range of activities to be considered “covered activities” and a broad range of devices to be considered “safety devices” under New York Labor Law provisions.

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