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New York Appellate Court Hears Slip and Fall Case at Construction Site


On December 7, 2006, a bricklayer was working on a scaffold more than 20 feet off of the ground. A New York Injury Lawyer said it was late in the day and the bricklayer maintains that he needed to use the bathroom. He informed his foreman and requested permission to lower the scaffold. He had lowered the scaffold on previous occasions so that he could use the bathroom and the foreman had not had an issue with it. However, the complainant advised that on this particular date, when he asked permission to lower the scaffold, the foreman told him that it was too late in the day and that it would put them behind on the job. He told the bricklayer to use the materials basket and have the helper lower him down in it.

The materials basket is a canvas basket that is used to raise and lower tools when they are needed. The helper told the foreman that it would not be a good idea, but the foreman ignored him. The bricklayer got into the canvas basket and the helper began to lower him to the ground. A Nassau County Personal Injury Lawyer said he was lowered about one half of a building story before the ropes gave way and the basket fell two stories to the ground below. The bricklayer was wearing a safety harness that was attached to the scaffolding, but it did not stop his fall. He sustained significant injury in the fall and filed a lawsuit against the construction company and the foreman.

This lawsuit is based on the fact that the foreman used negligence in insisting that the bricklayer use the materials basket to get to the ground to go to the bathroom rather than lowering the scaffold. This is a clearly dangerous practice and one that a reasonable man would consider hazardous. The construction company foreman disagreed.

The foreman denies ever telling the bricklayer that he should use the materials basket to lower himself. He maintains that the bricklayer took it upon himself to take that action and his subsequent injury is his own fault and not the fault of the foreman who did not give him permission for such a fool hardy stunt.

The bricklayer’s wife also filed suit. Her suit alleges that she deserves compensation from the construction company because of loss of consortium. Basically, she is claiming that because her husband is injured, they are not able to continue on as man and wife. She believes that she should be compensated for that lack of consortium. A Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer said he and her husband filed a motion requesting a summary judgment of liability against the construction company because the labor laws of New York state that anyone working at an elevated height who is injured due to negligence of the company or building owner because his safety harness did not prevent his fall. He was not in violation of any orders made by his supervisor so the law says that he is entitled to summary judgment.

The owner of the construction company contends that the foreman’s request for a summary judgment should be denied because the foreman testified that he did not refuse to lower the scaffold and that he knew nothing of the bricklayer’s intentions to ride the materials basket down to the ground. They maintain that his conduct caused the accident and that he should be considered a “recalcitrant worker” as described in the code section. A recalcitrant worker is one that is aware of the necessity for using the safety harness and lines, but who refuses to use them. The company states that this is reason for dismissal of the summary judgment request made by the bricklayer.

The Supreme Court reviewed the facts of the case and determined that the foreman’s testimony in reference to the fact that the bricklayer was wearing his harness and safety line at the time of the accident undermines the contention by the company that he is a recalcitrant worker. The request for summary judgment in favor of the bricklayer was approved. The motions from the company were dismissed. The motion from the wife for compensation from lack of marital consortium is also dismissed for lack of cause.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, there are Queens Personal Injury Lawyers in convenient offices throughout New York and Metropolitan area. Suffering from a personal injury because of the negligence of others is difficult. Whether you have hurt in a slip and fall, a construction accident or car accident, call Stephen Bilkis and Associates for a free consultation.

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