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New York Court of Appeals Issues Labor Law 240 Decision

January 20, 2019

A divided Court of Appeals ruled in O'Brien v The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that the defendant presented sufficient evidence to defeat plaintiff’s summary judgment motion. Plaintiff O’Brien was a construction worker who slipped ono an exterior metal stairway.    The plaintiff sued, and the Supreme Court denied summary judgment to all parties on the Labor Law 240(1) claim based upon conflicting expert affidavits.  The Supreme Court however did grant plaintiff summary judgment on his Labor Law 241(6) holding that defendants violated a provision of the Industrial Code.  The Appellate Division, First department reached the opposite result, granting plaintiff summary judgment on Labor Law 240(1) but reversing the lower court and denying summary judgment on the Labor Law 241(6) claim.  Defendants appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the parties’ conflicting expert evidence on whether the staircase was an adequate safety device raised questions of fact for the jury to decide. The Court held that the parties' conflicting expert evidence on whether the staircase was an adequate safety device raised questions of fact for the jury to decide.

The Court of Appeals’ opinion can be found here:
https://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/Decisions/2017/Mar17/27opn17-Decision.pdf

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