An injured worker who fell down stairs while moving a machine won his New York Labor Law case because his employer failed to provide a safety device for moving the equipment.
The New York Appellate Division, First Department found that the employer violated the Labor Law when it failed to provide a safe means of getting a spray paint machine downstairs when an elevator was out of service.
Missed step while walking backwards down stairs
Christian Caba was working for OV Painting and Supply at a property owned by 587-91 Third Owner LLC when his foreman told him to move a heavy spray paint machine from the 10th floor to the 9th floor.
There were two elevators in the building, but only one was functional. Caba and his foreman waited with the machine near the working elevator, but after 30 minutes without the elevator coming to their floor, the foreman became impatient. He told Caba to help him move the machine down the stairway by holding the front of the machine.
Caba had to walk backwards down the stairs while holding the front of the machine with both hands and he couldn’t see the steps. As the two men moved the machine down the stairs, Caba missed a step and fell down 13 steps to the landing below. He later filed a Labor Law claim against OV Painting and Third Owner.
Foreman directed him to help carry machine
The court found that Caba was entitled to summary judgment on his claim because:
- his foreman directed him to work on an elevated work platform, the stairway, and
- both the employer and property owner were required to provide an adequate safety device for carrying the paint machine down the stairs.
That meant both OV Painting and Third Owner were negligent and summary judgment in Caba’s favor was justified.