The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in this Labor Law 240(1) action should have been granted. The pallet jack, which was deemed a safety device, wasn’t long enough to fully lift the 400 pound elevator platform. Plaintiff was lifting the end of the platform which was not supported by the pallet jack (in order to place another pallet jack under it) when he felt his arm snap:
Plaintiff … was injured as he was attempting to move a 400-pound elevator platform from the front of a flatbed truck to the tailgate. The platform, which was about seven feet long, rested on a pallet jack that was too small to allow the platform to rest properly on it, causing the platform to dip and touch the flatbed. As plaintiff lifted the platform about four or five inches off the pallet jack in order to place a second pallet underneath to facilitate moving the platform, he felt a snap in his left arm.
The pallet jack was a safety device that was insufficient to allow plaintiff to move the platform from the front of the flatbed truck to the tailgate. In view of the weight of the platform and the amount of force it was able to generate, even in falling a relatively short distance, plaintiff’s injury resulted from a failure to provide adequate protection, required by Labor Law § 240(1), against a risk arising from a significant elevation differential … . Schoendorf v 589 Fifth TIC I LLC, 2022 NY Slip Op 03580, First Dept 6-2-22
Practice Point: Even a height-differential of four or five inches can support a Labor Law 240(1) cause of action. Here plaintiff was attempting to lift a 400 pound elevator platform a few inches in order to place a pallet jack under it when he injured his arm.