Question of Fact Whether Failure to Wear a Harness Precluded Recovery in a Labor Law 240 (1) Action
The Second Department determined defendant had raised a question of fact whether plaintiff’s actions were the sole proximate cause of the accident (which would preclude recovery in a Labor Law 240 (1) action). Plaintiff was injured when plywood flooring collapsed. However the defendant presented evidence plaintiff was aware he was required to wear a harness which would have prevented him from falling to the floor below:
” Labor Law § 240(1) imposes upon owners and general contractors, and their agents, a nondelegable duty to provide safety devices necessary to protect workers from risks inherent in elevated work sites'” … . To prevail on a cause of action pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1), the plaintiff must establish a violation of the statute and that the violation was a proximate cause of his injuries … . Although contributory negligence on the part of the worker is not a defense to a Labor Law § 240(1) claim …, where a plaintiff’s actions are the sole proximate cause of his injuries, liability under Labor Law § 240(1) does not attach … .
Here, although the plaintiff met his prima facie burden of establishing a violation of Labor Law § 240(1) … the defendants produced evidence that a safety harness and line were available to the plaintiff, that he was aware that he was required to anchor the line on the floor where he was working, and that the anchors, harness, and line would have prevented him from falling to the 14th floor, but that the plaintiff had consciously decided not to anchor his line on the 15th floor as instructed. The defendant’s submissions were sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff’s actions were the sole proximate cause of his accident … . Bascombe v West 44th St Hotel LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op 00712, 2nd Dept 1-28-15