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April 13, 2019

Victory Overcoming Summary Judgement In Westchester Construction Accident Case- Plaintiff establishes Labor Law violations

By Michael H. Joseph

Our White Plains construction accident attorneys won a major victory in the Westchester Supreme Court by overcoming the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

Our Westchester construction accident attorneys filed a complaint against a home owner who self managed a roofing project in Dobbs Ferry by hiring day laborers without insurance. While the Dobbs Ferry property was a two-family home, which are usually excluded under the Labor Laws,  the Westchester Supreme Court found that our White Plains construction accident attorneys proved that an exception applies because the homeowner self managed the project and acted as his own general contractor.  The injured construction worker was supervising masonry work being done at the premises, owned and lived in by the defendants, when he stepped on a nail, which caused a puncture wound on his foot that became infected.  As a result, the plaintiff developed Ostemyelitis, a bone infection, and required several surgeries to remove portions of the bone and flesh of his foot.

At the time of his injuries, the Day laborer  defendants were responsible for replacing the roof at the premises and demolished the old roof and then discarded-the debris on the ground surrounding the house. Out Westchester construction accident attorneys established that the nail which caused his injuries was part of the debris from the roof demolition which was not properly being discarded.

The Homeowner defendants move for summary judgement, arguing that they were protected by the “homeowner exemption” incorporated into LL § 241 (6).  The section of the Labor Law insulates “owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for about do not direct or control the work” from liability. The homeowner defendants claimed that they were entitled to the exemption because  they owned a one or two family dwelling and while they contracted with people to do the work in their home, they did not control the work being done, because they hired the day laborer contractors to replace their roof and had no supervisory control over the project.

The defendants also claimed that the plaintiff could not hold them liable under Labor Law 200, which is the codification of common law negligence, since they, as owners of the property, exercised no supervisory direction or control over the work being done.  As such, they argue they cannot be liable for the plaintiff’s accident due to the alleged defective or dangerous condition, nor did they have any notice, actual or constructive, of the dangerous condition which caused the accident.

Our White Plains construction injury lawyers opposed both motions, and established that the homeowner defendants were directly responsible for the roofing project at the premises because they took it upon themselves to select the materials to be used and purchase them, ordered the dumpster in which to discard the debris, placed the dumpster, and cleaned up the worksite at the end of the day. Finally, our plaintiff lawyers proved that the defendant’s wife knew about the  scattered debris because she called our client just two days before the accident to complain about the debris scattered all over the property, erroneously believing that the day laborers worked for him. The Westchester Supreme Court found that our injury lawyers proved that improper demolition practices caused the injury and that was a violation of Labor Law 241.

Labor Law § 241 (6) imposes a nondelegable duty upon owners, contractors and their agents to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to construction workers. In order to impose liability under this section, the plaintiff must demonstrate there existed a violation of specific regulatory provision of the industrial Code which resulted in injury to the plaintiff.  If there was a breach of such a regulation, the general contractor and owner are liable for the injury. 

As to the remaining causes of action pursuant to LL §241(6), the court recognizes that the homeowner’s exemption contained in the law ‘was enacted to protect those who, lacking business sophistication, would not know or anticipate the need to obtain insurance to cover them against absolute liability. The Westchester Court found that our our construction injury  lawyers overcame this burden and established materials issues of fact as to whether the Dobbs Ferry homeowner defendants  “exercised the requisite degree of direction and control” over the work being done, which caused the Plaintiff’s injury.

Similarly, the court found that the plaintiff has established genuine issues of fact with respect to the LL §§200 cause of action, which is codification of the common law duty of an owner or employer to provide employees with a safe place to work.  Liability under LL §200 cannot be imposed unless a plaintiff establishes that the owner or general contractor supervised or controlled the work performed or had actual or constructive notice of the unsafe condition which precipitated plaintiff injury. Furthermore, the Westchester court held that our construction accident attorneys established that there is a triable issue of fact as to whether or not the Homeowner had notice of the alleged dangerous condition that caused his accident, given the telephone call made to the plaintiff by The defendants’ wife  regarding the condition of the worksite just days before the accident.

Most attorneys will not take the case as soon as they hear the case happened on a one or two family house. Our Westchester construction accident lawyers are proud to have gone the extra mile and beat the odds to get justice for a construction worker who got hurt because of an unsafe worksite.



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