The Court of Appeals, reversing (modifying) the Appellate Division, over a three-judge dissent, determined defendants’ motion for summary judgment should not have been granted in this Labor Law 240(1) action. Plaintiff was injured when he fell attempting to enter a building from a scaffold through a window cut-out. Although there was evidence of a standing order prohibiting use of that method for entering the building, other workers used that method:
A defendant has no liability under Labor Law § 240 (1) when plaintiffs: (1) “had adequate safety devices available,” (2) “knew both that” the safety devices “were available and that [they were] expected to use them,” (3) “chose for no good reason not to do so,” and (4) would not have been injured had they “not made that choice” … . Here, a triable issue of fact exists as to whether plaintiff knew he was expected to use the safety devices provided to him, despite the apparent accepted practice of entering the building through the window cut-outs from the scaffolding. Indeed, as the Appellate Division dissent concluded, the Appellate Division majority (and the dissent here) “ignore the evidence in the record that workers on this job site used the scaffold to go through window cut-outs to enter the interior of the building and that the scaffold was clearly inadequate for that purpose” … .
Given defendants’ purported acquiescence to this alleged practice, the general contractor’s standing order directing workers not to enter the building through the cut-outs is insufficient to entitle defendants to summary judgment … . Further, the accepted practice could have negated the normal and logical inclination to use the scaffold, stairs, or hoist instead of the cut-outs … . Finally, in context and given the other conflicting evidence in the record, a factfinder should determine whether plaintiff’s statement that he “wasn’t supposed to pass through there” unambiguously establishes that he knew he was expected to use the safety devices. Biaca-Neto v Boston Rd. II Hous. Dev. Fund Corp., 2020 NY Slip Op 01116, CtApp 2-18-20