Fall from Unsecured Ladder

A worker falling from an unsecured ladder due to elevated related work, is the exact type of accident covered under Labor Law § 240(1). Where the defendant owner or general contractor cannot present a stitch of evidence the injured worker was afforded proper protection as required by Labor Law § 240(1), partial summary judgment against defendants on the issue of liability is warranted.

See, Casasola v. State, 129 A.D.3d 758, 9 N.Y.S.3d 685 (2nd Dept., 2015) (reversing the trial court's denial of plaintiffs' summary judgment motion; claimant should have been granted summary judgment where he fell from an unsecured A-frame ladder upon which he was standing swayed and fell, causing him to fall and sustain injuries... ) Przyborowski v. A & M Cook, LLC, 120 A.D.3d 651, 992 N.Y.S.2d 56 (2nd Dept., 2014) ("The plaintiff allegedly sustained injuries when he fell while descending an unsecured A-frame ladder at his work site. The upper level of the work site was approximately 6 feet above the lower level. In addition to the subject ladder, access between the two levels was available by means of a concrete staircase located approximately three to four meters away from the ladder. Notably, the record does not establish that the plaintiff was instructed to use one method of access rather than the other... However, contrary to the Supreme Court's determination, the plaintiff established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability on the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1), and neither Cook nor PSG raised a triable issue of fact in opposition to the plaintiff's motion... .Here, the plaintiff established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability by demonstrating that he was injured when the unsecured, closed A-frame ladder fell backwards as he descended it. Contrary to Cook's contention, it failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff's decision to use the ladder, rather than the staircase, was the sole proximate cause of his injuries... Here, there is no evidence that anyone instructed the plaintiff that he was 'expected to' use the staircase rather than the ladder. Indeed, the record reveals that, on at least some occasions, other workers used the ladder rather than the staircase. Under these circumstances, the plaintiff's exercise of his discretion in connection with whether to use the ladder or the staircase cannot be said to be the sole proximate cause of his injuries.")

Defendant owner's and general contractor's failure to furnish safety device(s) sufficient to protect the laborer against the elevation-related risk posed by the work constitutes a breach of the duty imposed by Labor Law § 240(1). Consider, Hai-Zhong Pang v. LNK Best Group, Inc., 111 A.D.3d 889, 976 N.Y.S.2d 139 (2nd Dept., 2013) ("The plaintiff fell from an unsecured A-frame ladder when the ladder tipped over, causing him to fall. In opposition, the defendants failed to raise a triable issue as to whether the plaintiff's conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident.") and Grant v. City of New York, 109 A.D.3d 961, 972 N.Y.S.2d 86 (2nd Dept., 2013) ("The plaintiff fell from an unsecured straight ladder when it shifted to the side, and that the failure to secure the ladder proximately caused his injuries... .In opposition, the City failed to raise a triable issue of fact. Contrary to the City's contention, the plaintiff's alleged failure to have a coworker hold the bottom of the ladder or to use an available nylon rope to secure the bottom of the ladder to a stationary object did not raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff's conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident. Thus, the Supreme Court should have granted that branch of the plaintiff's motion which was for summary judgment on the issue of liability on his Labor Law § 240(1).")

See also, Canas v. Harbour at Blue Point Home Owners Ass'n, Inc., 99 A.D.3d 962, 953 N.Y.S.2d 150 (2nd Dept., 2012) ("... plaintiff was injured when an unsecured ladder upon which he was standing slipped from beneath him, and caused him to fall while he was painting the exterior of a condominium building... Here, the plaintiff made a prima facie showing of his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability under that statute by showing that, although he was provided with a ladder, as required by the statute, the ladder was not secured so as to prevent it and him from falling. Further, there was no assistance provided in holding the ladder while the plaintiff painted... In opposition to the plaintiff's prima facie showing, the defendants failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff's conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident. Since the plaintiff was provided only with an unsecured ladder and no safety devices, the plaintiff cannot be held solely at fault for his injuries."); Kaminski v. 22-61 42nd Street, LLC, 91 A.D.3d 606, 935 N.Y.S.2d 903 (2nd Dept., 2012) ("laborer plaintiff was injured when an inadequately secured ladder that he was descending slipped or moved, causing him to fall... Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability on the cause of action pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1)."); Gonzalez v. AMCC Corp., 88 A.D.3d 945, 931 N.Y.S.2d 415 (2nd Dept., 2011) ("plaintiff was standing on an unsecured A-frame ladder when the ladder shifted, causing him to fall. No safety devices were provided that might have prevented the accident. The fact that the ladder may have had a brace in the middle to keep it open was immaterial, as the ladder was not secured to something stable and was not chocked or wedged in place... The appellants failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff's conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident, and failed to establish their prima facie entitlement to summary judgment dismissing the Labor Law § 240(1) cause of action insofar as asserted against them."); Raynor v. Quality Plaza Realty, LLC, 84 A.D.3d 774, 922 N.Y.S.2d 791 (2nd Dept., 2011) ("The plaintiff fell 17 to 20 feet from an unsecured extension ladder while installing light fixtures in a warehouse. The plaintiff's supervisor told him to use an extension ladder to complete the work and helped him set up the ladder without providing any means to secure it. Initially, the supervisor braced the extension ladder by holding it while the plaintiff climbed it. Thereafter, the supervisor helped the plaintiff set up the ladder in a different location, again, without providing any means to secure it, and left the plaintiff alone to complete the work. After the plaintiff climbed the ladder, the top of the unsecured ladder slipped from the ceiling truss on which it was resting and the base of the ladder slid out from underneath the plaintiff, causing both the ladder and the plaintiff to fall to the floor. Under these circumstances, the plaintiff established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1). In opposition, the defendants failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether there was a statutory violation or the plaintiff's conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident.") and Ordonez v. C.G. Plumbing Supply Corp., 83 A.D.3d 1021, 922 N.Y.S.2d 156 (2nd Dept., 2011) ("plaintiff fell from an unsecured extension ladder slipped from underneath him as he attempted to descend it after completing a welding task. To complete the task the plaintiff was hoisted to the roof of an adjoining building by a forklift. A coworker then placed the ladder against the wall of the building, and the plaintiff stood on the ladder while performing the welding task. After the plaintiff finished, as he took his first step down the ladder, the ladder slipped out away from the wall and fell to the ground, causing the plaintiff to fall and sustain injuries... The plaintiff established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability on his Labor Law § 240(1) cause of action by submitting his deposition testimony and the deposition testimony of a witness, which demonstrated that he fell from an unsecured extension ladder when it slid out from underneath him, and that the failure to secure the ladder proximately caused his injuries... In opposition, the defendants failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff's conduct was the sole proximate cause of the accident.")

See further, Ramirez v. I.G.C. Wall Sys. Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op 04927 (2nd Dept., 6-22-2016) ("The plaintiff also established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability on the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1) against the appellant. Labor Law § 240(1) imposes upon owners and general contractors, and their agents, a nondelegable duty to provide safety devices necessary to protect workers from risks inherent in elevated work sites. To prevail on a cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1), a plaintiff must establish that the statute was violated and that the violation was a proximate cause of his or her injuries. The plaintiff's evidence demonstrated that the make-shift ladder "jerked" as his decedent was descending, which caused him to fall to the ground. In opposition, the appellant failed to raise a triable issue of fact. Testimony from other witnesses that they had safely used the same ladder on other occasions during the weeks leading up to the accident was insufficient to refute the plaintiff's decedent's testimony that it was unstable at the time of the accident.") and Hill v. City of New York, 2016 NY Slip Op 05019 (1st Dept., 6-23-2016) ("Where a ladder is offered as a work-site safety device, it must be sufficient to provide proper protection. It is well settled that the failure to properly secure a ladder, to ensure that it remains steady and erect while being used, constitutes a violation of Labor Law § 240(1). At both his deposition and General Municipal Law § 50-h hearing, plaintiff consistently testified that he fell from the sixth rung of an eight-foot ladder after the ladder unexpectedly wobbled. Conde corroborated plaintiff's account by testifying, "I saw the ladder go right and then come left and that's when I saw plaintiff fall . . . He wobbled this way to the right; the ladder went to the right . . . and then to the left, that's when it went too far and plaintiff tumbled". Plaintiff's affidavit in support of his motion for summary judgment did not contradict these earlier statements. In the affidavit plaintiff averred that, as he was working on the piping atop the ladder, he "lost [his] balance and fell off the ladder to the ground below." The fact that he did not mention the ladder wobbling is of no moment. Taken together, all of his and Conde's statements, including Conde's account of the videotape footage, which he viewed twice, support plaintiff's position that he fell because the ladder wobbled. Plaintiff did not offer a different reason for falling. Nor did the unsigned Workers' Compensation Form C-2 report prepared by plaintiff's employer, which stated that plaintiff "was tightening a plumbing fitting when the wrench he was using slipped, he lost his balance and fell off of an 8 ft ladder," contradict plaintiff's statement that the ladder wobbled, causing him to drop his wrench. In any event, it is irrelevant whether he fell because the ladder wobbled or because he dropped his wrench. It is clear that the ladder did not prevent plaintiff from falling and there is no dispute that no safety devices, other than the ladder, were provided. Defendants' argument that plaintiff was required to demonstrate that the ladder was defective in order to satisfy his burden as to the Labor Law § 240(1) claim is without merit. It is sufficient for purposes of liability under section 240(1) that adequate safety devices to prevent the ladder from slipping or to protect plaintiff from falling were absent. Inasmuch as there is no evidence that plaintiff was a recalcitrant worker or that he was not engaged in covered activity, it is sufficient for his Labor Law § 240(1) claim that his injuries were the direct consequence of using a ladder that did not provide adequate protection.")

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