The Plaintiff was repairing a door located in the school’s basement. The door was situated some 10 feet above the basement’s floor and accessible via a metal ladder affixed to the wall. The ladder led to a 10-inch-wide doorstep sill. As a result of this odd configuration, the plaintiff had to work with one foot on the sill and the other on the ladder’s second-highest rung. The plaintiff grabbed the doorknob and tested the door. The doorknob broke causing the plaintiff to lose balance and fall to the basement floor. The plaintiff sustained injuries in his foot and shoulder.
The Plaintiff, represented by his counsel Hach & Rose, LLP, sued the school owners, the city of New York, and the school’s operator, the New York City Department of Education. The claim alleges that the defendants violated the New York State Labor Law, specifically Section 200.
Section 200 provides that all construction industry employers must provide a reasonably safe environment for all of their employees as well as anyone else legally on their work site. Specifically, the law requires that employers properly maintain, guard, light, and operate all machinery and other equipment on the construction site.
Plaintiff’s counsel argues that the ladder which the plaintiff used was not properly constructed and the work site was not properly safeguarded. Plaintiff’s counsel also presented a workplace-safety expert who opined that the ladder’s rungs were not properly spaced. The expert contended that the resultant defect constituted a violation of standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Furthermore, the expert opined that the doorknob had not been properly attached, and he contended that the resultant defect violated relevant codes.
Defense counsel contended that Labor Law Section 200 was inapplicable to this case as the law’s scope is limited to incidents that occur during construction, demolition or excavation. Defense counsel further argued that the doorknob’s detachment was an unforeseeable, unpreventable event.
As a result of the accident the plaintiff was forced to undergo ankle fusion surgery.
The parties negotiated a settlement during trial and the defendant agreed and paid the worker a total of $2,100,000.
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