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Construction Accident – Fall From a Ladder (2006)

The New York State Labor Law provides protection for workers who are working at heights while performing construction, excavation or demolition work. When a worker falls from a ladder, scaffold or other elevated safety device – or when the device fails – serious injuries often occur. To encourage owners and contractors to pay attention to job site safety, the law holds them responsible when a worker falls from a height.

Our client was assigned to repair a light fixture on a pole in a parking lot owned by the State of New York. The light fixture was controlled by a photo cell on the roof of a nearby shed, and it developed that the photo cell was broken. After repairing the photo cell, our client was injured when a ladder twisted underneath him as he was descending from the roof of the shed.

The State moved to dismiss the case, arguing that our client was not protected by the Labor Law because other cases have found that the law does not cover changing light bulbs. The judge in the Court of Claims agreed, and we appealed.

On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department agreed with our position, finding that our client was doing work that is protected by the Labor Law because his assignment was not merely “changing a light bulb,” but was far more involved. The Court went on to find that our client was entitled to judgment in his favor without a trial, leaving the only question in the case the amount of damages he should be awarded. The case later settled on terms favorable to our client.

Read the Fitzpatrick decision here.


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