A New York appeals court upheld the denial of summary judgment on the Labor Law claim of a worker who fell from a scaffold.
The worker was in the process of constructing the scaffold near the top of a five-story building when the incident occurred.
Tied off at first, then unhooked his harness
Luis Guaman was working for the New York City Housing Authority while constructing the scaffold. He was tied off to the scaffold when he laid down the first scaffolding plank.
However, Guaman admitted that he unhooked his harness to place the second plank, which is when he fell. He claimed that the safety line he was given to use was of insufficient length to accommodate movement around the scaffold.
Guaman filed a Labor Law claim against the Housing Authority. A lower court denied his request for summary judgment.
Expert: He could’ve stayed tied off regardless of line length
On appeal, the court found there were genuine issues of fact as to whether Guaman was the sole cause of his injury, so it upheld the lower court decision denying summary judgment in his favor.
Guaman and his foreman testified that Guaman was provided with only a 6-foot safety line, which was too short for the work he had to do. However, the Housing Authority said that a 10-foot retractable safety line, which was adequate for the task, had been provided in addition to the 6-foot line.
Further, an expert Guaman brought into court to testify said that Guaman could’ve remained tied off at the time he fell regardless of which safety line was provided.
This conflicting evidence raised issues of fact on whether Guaman had adequate safety devices available and whether he chose not to use them, so summary judgment couldn’t be granted.