Summary Judgment Turns on Notice of Allegedly Dangerous Working Conditions

Ramsey v. Leon D. Dematteis Constr. Corp., 79 A.D.3d 720, 912 N.Y.S.2d 654 (NY App. Div. 2010)

In Ramsey, the plaintiff, an apprentice elevator mechanic and employee of a subcontract elevator company, was injured in a fall while constructing an elevator shaft as part of a school construction project.  He sued the general contractor and the property owner for failing to provide proper safety protection and failing to maintain an elevated workplace free from dangerous conditions under New York’s Labor Law and common law negligence theories.  The contractor had provided two aluminum planks, which stretched about a foot in either direction beyond the shaft, for the plaintiff to stand on, secured by placing wooden beams on top of either end.  The Appellate Division, Second Department, denied both the plaintiff’s and contractor defendant’s motions for summary judgment, finding that triable issues of fact existed as to whether the safety precautions were sufficient, and as to whether the materials plaintiff allegedly slipped on were integral to the work or mere “debris.”  But the court found that the building owner was entitled to summary judgment since it had no actual or constructive notice of the allegedly dangerous condition.

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