SACS Appellate Group Prevails: First Department Reverses Lower Court’s Order Granting Plaintiff Summary Judgment On His Labor Law §240(1) Claim
The SACS Appellate Group persuaded the Appellate Division, First Department to reverse the Supreme Court, Bronx County’s order granting plaintiff summary judgment on his Labor Law § 240(1) claim. The plaintiff in this case was injured when a load of cement boards fell from a flatbed truck during the delivery process. Plaintiff moved for summary judgment arguing that defendants violated § 240(1) by directing him to effectuate the delivery at an informal loading dock without adequate equipment, namely, a hoist. The Supreme Court granted summary judgment in plaintiff’s favor.
On appeal, defendants successfully invoked the “sole proximate cause defense,” arguing that there was an issue of fact as to whether plaintiff’s own negligent decisions and conduct were the sole proximate cause of his accident, since he had significant authority over and integral involvement in the sequence of events preceding his accident. Additionally, defendants argued that they fully discharged their duties under § 240(1) by providing A-frame dollies and a properly working pallet jack. At a minimum, however, the evidence raised an issue of fact as to the availability of a hoist, and whether any Labor Law violation contributed to plaintiff’s accident.
The First Department majority agreed, holding that plaintiff’s actions leading up to the accident precluded summary judgment in his favor. In doing so, the Court recounted several key facts highlighted in SACS’s briefing. The Court then held that a jury must consider the numerous events giving rise to plaintiff’s accident and decide which was a proximate cause. Accordingly, the Supreme Court’s decision was reversed, and plaintiff was denied summary judgment.
The appeal was briefed by Chris Simone, Jonathan Shaub, and Jennifer Graw, and argued by Jonathan.