Showing that Adequate Safety Devices were Absent is Sufficient to Establish Prima Facie Liability under NY Labor Law §240(1)

McCarthy v. Turner Constr., Inc., 859 N.Y.S.2d 648 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008)

In this case, plaintiff brought claims under Labor Law §240(1) for injuries sustained when the unsecured ladder he was standing on to drill holes in the ceiling tipped over and he fell to the floor.  The Supreme Court granted summary judgment to plaintiff on the issue of liability under the Labor Law and the Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed.

The court held that, for purposes of establishing a prima facie case of liability under the statute, the plaintiff need only show that adequate safety devices to prevent the ladder from slipping were absent; plaintiff is not required to show the ladder was defective.  Further, the owner and general contractor would still be liable even if the apprentice electrician working with plaintiff disobeyed an instruction to hold the ladder steady, as this is not the type of “safety device” contemplated by the statute.

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