Category Archives: Construction

G&S Gets Dismissal of Construction Labor Law Claims in Foot Crush Case

Plaintiff was performing demolition work on the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper when the 300 lb. cart of debris he was pulling up a ramp tipped over and crushed his foot claiming a permanent disability.  The plaintiff brought Labor Law claims pursuant to 240(1) and four separate 241(6) claims based on Industrial Code sections 23-1.7(f), 23-1.11(a) and 23-1.22(b) and (c)(1) against the building owner, the owner’s managing agent and the construction manager.  Continue reading

G & S Obtains Summary Judgment for Five Distinct Defendants in a Single Motion

The plaintiff in this action worked for a coffee distribution company when with knowledge of a broken light, exited from work through the loading dock and tripped over the bottom of a concrete ramp that had been poured to elevate trucks to the surface of the dock, fracturing his patella which required surgery.  He contended he fell due to a nonworking light and an improperly designed ramp which failed have handrails and yellow visibility paint.

Although he received Workers’ Compensation benefits, he sued his employer and his employer’s parent company  as well as a defunct affiliated company, as well as his employer’s landlord and a company affiliated with the landlord that shared the building.  G&S took over the defense of all five defendants.  Only the contractor that built the ramp was not being defended by G&S. Continue reading

Labor Law Claims Against Husband Dismissed but Allowed Against his Wife – Homeowner Exemption

 

In an unusual Labor Law case, Judge Billings dismissed a Labor Law §§240(1) and 241(6) claims against the owner of a one family dwelling, but granted the plaintiff’s motion to assert the same claims against the owner’s wife.  Plaintiff in Pizarro v. Lignelli, 102474/2011, NYLJ 1202641219115, at *1 (Sup. NY, Decided January 6, 2014) was injured while renovating defendant’s single family house.  Plaintiff also claimed violations of Labor Law §§200 and common law negligence.

Defendant moved for summary judgment based on the exemption under the Labor Law for owners of 1-2 family dwellings, when the owner contracts for, but does not supervise, direct, or control the construction to which the Labor Law applies.  In response, plaintiff cross-moved to add the same claims against defendant’s wife.

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Court Of Appeals Changes Standard For Collateral Estoppel

On December 10, 2013 the Court of Appeals, in a stunning unanimous decision, reversed its own ten-month old determination, that an individual found able to return to work by the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB), was precluded from re-litigating the issue in a subsequent civil suit.

The plaintiff in Auqui, Jose Verdugo, was injured on December 24, 2003 when a sheet of plywood fell from a building and struck him, causing head, neck, and back injuries. At a full WCB hearing, in which both sides were permitted to introduce expert medical testimony subject to cross examination, the administrative law judge found that Verdugo wasno longer disabled as of January 24, 2006.  On review, the Worker’s Compensation Board panel affirmed the finding.  Meanwhile, Verdugo’s wife, acting as her husband’s guardian, brought a lawsuit against the owner of the premises[1]. The owner moved to preclude the plaintiff from “re-litigating” the date his disability ended based on the WCB determination, which the Supreme Court granted and which the Appellate Division reversed but granted leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which initially reversed, finding preclusion in favor of the owner.

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G&S Recovers $2.037 Million For Defense Costs Related to 2008 Crane Accident Case

This Declaratory Judgment Action arose out of the tower crane collapse on May 30, 2008 at 91st and First Avenue which resulted in multiple deaths and millions of dollars in property, person injury and business interruption claims.  We represented the owner of the crane New York Crane & Equipment and it insurance carrier against the lessee and operator of the crane Sorbara Construction Co. and its insurance carrier.  Despite Sorbara agreeing to provide insurance to NY Crane in the crane rental agreement, Sorbara’s carrier refused, claiming that NY Crane was not entitled to insurance because it had been indicted for criminally negligence homicide for allegedly putting a defective crane in service and also because the accident had not occurred while Sorbara had been working “for” NY Crane as required by the policy.  NY Crane and its principal were acquitted of all charges in the criminal case leaving only the issue of whether Sorbara was working “for” NY Crane at the time of the accident.  Sorbara’s carrier also argued that it had the right to reject defense costs it deemed not reasonable.  With respect to the former issue, Sorbara’s carrier relied on a recent Appellate Division decision involving another crane accident which denied NY Crane coverage under a nearly identical policy provision.  We argued however, that despite the two policies having essentially identical language they were formatted and punctuated differently so that when the policy provision in Sorbara’s policy was properly read, the requirement that the accident occur during Sorbara’s work “for” NY Crane did not apply when Sorbara itself was operating the crane.  The court agreed and after overcoming several further objections by Sorbara’s carrier with regard to the reasonableness of 60% of the charges, Sorbara’s carrier eventually agreed to pay $2.037 million out of the total claim of $2.3 million in defense costs associated with the underlying cases. 

Worker Falls Into 45 Gallon Kettle of Soup and Suffers 2d and 3rd Degree Burns – G&S Defends Restaurant

Plaintiff worked for a company that cleaned industrial exhaust systems.  Our client operated a restaurant inside the Manhattan headquarters of an international bank.  Plaintiff’s employer cleaned the kitchen exhaust hood monthly on the first Friday of the month. They were hired by the building manager not by the restaurant. Plaintiff cleaned at night after the restaurant/kitchen was vacant.  The building manager typically notified our client the day the exhaust hoods would be cleaned to give it the option to reschedule if the kitchen was needed for a night event and to make sure the kitchen was properly secured.  However, in the months prior to the accident, the building manager had stopped providing the restaurant with notice.  Without notice of the cleaning, the chef prepared an industrial sized kettle of broth to slow cook overnight.  This was done bi-monthly to use in various dishes. The kettle sat directly underneath the exhaust hood.

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