A New York construction worker injured by an unknown object was awarded summary judgment on his Labor Law claim despite being unable to identify the object that struck him.
The New York Appellate Division, First Department ruled that summary judgment was appropriate because the worker’s testimony and a photo of a hole in protective netting above where he worked was sufficient evidence to prove liability.
Lower court felt failure to identify object justified denial
Boaz Harsanyi worked on a construction site operated by Extell 4110 LLC. Harsanyi claimed he was struck on the head and neck by an unknown object while he was working on an outrigging platform on the 25th floor of a building that was under construction.
In court, Harsanyi testified that he could hear other workers stripping wood on the floors above him at the time of the incident. He submitted photos showing a large hole in the safety netting that served as overhead protection for the floor he had been working on.
On Dec. 23, 2022, a lower court denied Harsanyi’s petition for summary judgment on his Labor Law claim that argued that Extell was liable for his injury. The court felt that Harsanyi’s failure to identify the object that struck him precluded summary judgment. It also denied Extell’s petition for summary judgment.
Defective protective device enough to justify summary judgment
On appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department found that Harsanyi should have been granted summary judgment because a Labor Law claim involving a falling object “is not dependent on whether the plaintiff observed the object that hit him.”
Also, an injured worker isn’t required to show the “exact circumstances under which the object fell, where a lack of a protective device” caused the injuries.
The appeals court said the evidence was sufficient to prove that Harsanyi’s injury was the result of a Labor Law violation. Further, Extell failed to provide “any version of the accident under which they could not be held liable.”