The First Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined there were questions of fact about liability pursuant to Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). Plaintiff was working in a shaft when pebble-sized debris fell on him, allegedly seriously injuring his eye. There were questions of fact whether the distance the debris fell was de minimus and whether the force with which the debris fell was de minimus. There was also a question of fact whether planking should have been installed above the shaft to protect against falling debris:
There are issues of fact as to whether the debris that fell on plaintiff — taking into account the elevation differential, the debris’ weight, and the amount of force it could generate … — was “a load that required securing for the purposes of the undertaking at the time it fell” … , and whether his injury was a direct consequence of defendants’ “failure to provide adequate protection against a risk arising from a physically significant elevation differential” … . The trier of fact could find that the elevation differential between plaintiff and the level from which the debris fell was de minimis, that the debris’ weight was inconsequential, or that the debris could not have generated any meaningful amount of force, and determine that plaintiff’s “injuries were the result of [a] usual and ordinary danger at a construction site” … .. However, the trier of fact could determine that the elevation differential of at least one story was not de minimis, that the weight of the debris and the force it was capable of generating were significant, and that the debris should have been secured for the purpose of the undertaking. Peters v Structure Tone, Inc., 2022 NY Slip Op 02518, First Dept 4-19-22
Practice Point: There were questions of fact whether injury from falling pebble-sized debris is covered under Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). The force generated by the falling debris could be found to be de minimus.