Plaintiff Wins Under § 240(1) in “Falling Object” Case; No Requirement That Object Fell While Being Hoisted or Secured

In Matthews v. 400 Fifth Realty LLC, the Appellate Division, First Department reinstated plaintiff’s claims under Labor Law §§ 200 and 240(1).There, plaintiff was injured when a metal grate fell on him while he was working in the elevator shaft of a building owned by defendant 400 Fifth Realty.

As to plaintiff’s Labor Law § 240(1) claim, the court held that plaintiff was entitled to partial summary judgment on liability, since the

evidence shows that plaintiff’s injuries flowed directly from the application of the force of gravity to the grate, and were caused by defendants’ failure to adequately secure the grate so as to prevent it from falling. [Construction manager Paravini’s subcontractor] GCI’s foreman testified that the accident occurred while he was setting up the grates to prepare them for welding, and that the subject grate fell because it had not yet been welded in place. Contrary to defendants’ contention, the falling grate was not an inherent risk involved in working at a construction site. Rather, the grate was part of the work of the construction project in which plaintiff was engaged and was required to be secured “for the purposes of the undertaking.

The court further held, based on the Court of Appeals’ 2008 decision in Quattrocchi v. F.J. Sciame Constr. Corp., that “‘falling object’ liability under Labor Law § 240(1) is not limited to cases in which the falling object is in the process of being hoisted or secured.”

It also held that the motion court erred by dismissing plaintiff’s Labor Law § 200 and common-law negligence claims against construction manager Paravini, in light of the fact that Paravini

managed the day-to-day activities on the job site, and exercised at least some control over the coordination of GCI’s and Fujitec’s work, enabling it to avoid or correct [the] unsafe condition that arose when both subcontractors were working simultaneously in the same elevator shaft.

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