Weight of Falling Object, Not Just Height Differential, Can Implicate Absolute Liability Under Labor Law

The 39-foot, 1,300-pound rail fell only 12-16 inches onto plaintiff’s right leg. It occurred when the plaintiff and his coworkers were using rail hooks to move the rail on top of another rail at the Steinway subway station in Queens. Upon the callman’s signal, the plaintiff’s coworkers began lifting the rail off the ground, but the plaintiff’s hooks were not in place and he was not ready to begin lifting. This allegedly caused the team to lose control of the rail and resulted in the rail falling. Under this scenario, there is an issue of fact whether Labor Law 240(1) … Read the rest

NYC Buildings Department No-Penalty Retaining Wall Inspection Program In Progress Until May 31

Retaining walls are designed to hold back soil that would move to a more natural slope or incline if the wall was not in place. Every homeowner is required by law to maintain their walls and their properties in a safe condition at all times. Under the No-Penalty Retaining Wall Inspection Program, homeowners may call 311 to request an inspection of their retaining wall without the penalty of violations.

Every once in a while you hear a story in the news about a retaining wall that collapsed on a worker engaged in a construction project on an adjoining property where … Read the rest

Criminal Charges Against Individuals and Corporations Shed Light on Cause of 2008 Crane Collapse in Manhattan

On March 8, 2010, two individuals and two corporations were indicted on criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and other charges related to the May 30, 2008, crane collapse in New York City that killed two people and seriously injured a third. The indictment describes the callous indifference to safety by the defendants who decided, in an effort to lessen the downtime of and lost rental income from a broken crane, to use a cheaper and quicker means of repair from a Chinese company whose qualifications had not been verified.

The collapse of the crane was caused by the failure of a … Read the rest

Building Owner Charged with Manslaughter in Death of Construction Worker Loses Bid to Suppress Incriminating Statements

On March 12, 2008, the basement foundation wall of a two-story wood-frame residential building located at 795 Glenmore Avenue in Brooklyn collapsed into the construction site on the adjoining parcel at 793 and 791 Glenmore Avenue, causing the death of a construction worker who was working in the excavation site at the time of the collapse. The laborers were digging out the soil for the foundations and underpinnings when the wall collapsed. The owner of both the building and the construction site, William Lattarulo, stands charged with manslaughter in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the second degree.

The … Read the rest

Indictment Accuses Mob of Infiltrating NYC Building Department, Taking Bribes To Grant Building Permits, Expedite Inspections And Overlook Building Violations

The Manhattan District Attorney on October 1, 2009, announced the indictment and arrest of 29 people and four corporations for enterprise corruption, bribery, bribe receiving, extortion, narcotics, and firearms trafficking, and illegal gambling. Among the individual defendants are members and associates of the Cosa Nostra Lucchese Organized Crime Family (Lucchese Crime Family), including three inspectors formerly employed by the New York City Department of Buildings and two members of the Family ruling panel; three other former building inspectors; and individuals and companies in the construction and real estate industry.

The District Attorney accused the mob of seeking to place associates … Read the rest

First Department Debates How Much Effort Court of Appeals Requires a Worker To Make To Search For Safety Devices At The Construction Work Site

In Cherry v. Time Warner, Inc., — N.Y.S.2d —-, 2009 WL 2497974 (1 Dept. August 18, 2009), the plaintiff was securing sheet rock to the ceiling on the third floor when he fell off a baker’s scaffold onto the concrete floor eight feet below. The scaffold measuring approximately two feet wide by six to eight feet long had guardrails on only two of its four sides.

The Appellate Division, First Department was called upon to decide whether safety guardrails were in place on the scaffold from which the plaintiff fell and if they were not in place, whether they … Read the rest

New Yorks Statutes Aimed at Protecting Construction Workers Held to Apply to Accident on Indian Reservation

In Alexander v. Hart, — N.Y.S.2d —-, 2009 WL 1955556, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 05716 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept., 2009) the plaintiff, a service technician, fell while working on a rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit at defendants’ fitness center on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in Franklin County. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6) claims on the ground that these construction worker safety statutes do not apply on the grounds that
(1) the statutes do not apply to accidents that occur on an Indian reservation,
(2) since the tribe is the title owner … Read the rest

Can One Appellate Department Be Right and Three Be Wrong? Yes, Says the Court of Appeals When It Comes to Power-Operated Heavy Equipment or Machinery and the Labor Law

An employee who claims to have suffered proximate injuries caused by a previously identified and unremedied structural defect or unsafe condition affecting an item of power-operated heavy equipment or machinery has stated a cause of action under Labor Law 241(6) based on an alleged violation of 12 NYCRR 23-9.2(a), held the Court of Appeals in Misicki v. Caradonna, — N.E.2d —-, 2009 WL 1286012 (N.Y.), 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 03764 (May 12, 2009). The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, had been the only one of the four Appellate Divisions to rule that a violation of the rule and regulation promulgated by … Read the rest

OSHA Random Inspections Reveal That Fall Hazards Are The Biggest Safety Problem at New York City Construction Sites

The federal government says that the hazards of falling are the biggest safety problem at New York City construction sites after random inspections during a two-week enhanced enforcement effort this past summer. As part of its New York City construction safety task force, OSHA detailed 12 inspectors to conduct 96 safety inspections at 46 construction sites throughout the city from June 23 to July 3. The sites were randomly selected to encompass a cross-section of high-risk construction activities including tower cranes, high-rise construction, poured-in-place concrete operations, steel erection, gut-rehab and other high-risk construction activities.

Citations were issued to 60 contractors … Read the rest

Fire Department Report of Fatal Deutsche Bank Fire Blames NYC Fire and Buildings Departments and the Buildings Contractor

Two firefighters, Robert Beddia, 53, and Joseph Graffagnino, 33, died in the fire that broke out from a discarded cigarette butt in the former Deutsche Bank building fire of August 18th, 2007 during the demolition of the building. After the death of a firefighter, the Fire Department always impanels a site inspections team to study any problems that might have contributed to the death.

A 176-page report written by safety chiefs investigating the blaze was made public this past Thursday, August 21st. A grand jury investigating the blaze is expected to issue indictments next month. Among the findings and … Read the rest