A New York Construction Accident Lawyer Who Represents Injured Workers Tracking Developments in Construction Accident Law.

I Feel A Change Comin’ On … that’s the title of a Bob Dylan song on his new release, Together Through Life. The phrase may also apply to the landscape of New York Labor Law, which may be changing in light of court decisions issued in recent months.

Although it had been constricting in recent years, the Labor Law has seemingly moved in the opposite direction as of late, most recently with the Court of Appeals decision of Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, Inc. which expanded the protections of section 240(1), also known as the Scaffold Law, to apply to risks arising from construction worksite elevation differentials to situations beyond merely falling workers and falling objects.  

A Bronx Supreme Court decision from Justice Silver, Massa v. N.Y.C. Economic Development Corp. seems to be building on that precedent and moving farther in that direction. According to the Court, the facts are:

[Plaintiff’s decedent] was operating the Bobcat skid steer and was attempting to ‘nudge’ the steel beam off the edge of the building when the bucket, which was raised above the cab in a fully extended position, became entangled with something attached to the beam lifted the bobcat into the air, flipping it end over end, propelling both the Bobcat and [plaintiff’s decedent] over the side of the building where they landed on the ground approximately 26 or 27 feet below.

[Note: any grammatical errors are not of my doing].

Justice Silver then quoted at length from the Court of Appeals in Runner before concluding that the injury–in this case, the death of a worker–was due to a gravity-related risk and lack of an adequate safety device. The judge reached this conclusion despite the defense argument that the accident did not occur as a result of the Bobcat sliding off the edge of the building, but instead when the arm became entangled with a steel beam.

Who knows? Maybe the dark years of Labor Law jurisprudence are behind us? Maybe the crane accidents in Midtown and the Upper East Side over the past couple years have increased awareness of the risks to workers at construction sites and the significance of the Labor Law in ensuring that owners and general contractors maintain safe worksites and hire responsible contractors.  

We shall see….

Leave a Reply