Can a construction worker in New York get summary judgment on his Labor Law case for a fall from a grimy ladder?
The New York Appellate Division, First Department overturned a lower court’s denial of summary judgment, finding that the worker’s testimony and photographic evidence was sufficient to prove his case.
Slipped, fell from third rung as he was descending
Michael O’Shea was working at a construction site operated by general contractors Procida Construction Corp. and Cosan Construction when he slipped and fell from a ladder on the jobsite.
O’Shea filed a Labor Law claim, arguing that the general contractors were liable for his injuries.
Photos of ladder offered as evidence
In court, O’Shea testified about his incident and offered photographic evidence of the ladder at the jobsite.
Procida and Cosan argued that O’Shea caused his injury by losing his balance while climbing down the ladder. The two companies submitted O’Shea’s workers’ compensation form as evidence of this.
On Sept. 29, 2022, a lower court denied O’Shea’s request for summary judgment. O’Shea appealed.
No proof worker knew another ladder was available
The Appellate Division, First Department found that the evidence offered by the two general contractors “lacked probative value and failed to raise a triable issue as to whether (O’Shea’s) alleged misstep was the sole proximate cause of his injury.” This was because there was no authentication of the alleged statement made by O’Shea on the workers’ compensation claim.
The general contractors also argued that O’Shea could have used another ladder that was available on the jobsite, but there was no evidence that he was ever instructed to use the other ladder or even knew of its existence.
In light of the evidence, the appeals court ruled that O’Shea should have been granted summary judgment and overturned the lower court’s decision.