New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
Appealed from Supreme Court, Niagara County
Background: The plaintiffs commenced a Labor Law and negligence action seeking damages for injuries sustained while working on a sewer replacement project. The plaintiff was using an excavator to disassemble a manhole shield. Before the work began, his supervisor removed securing pins from both sides of several spreader bars, contrary to normal procedure. As the plaintiff began to separate the first panel, one of the unsecured spreader bars fell into the cab, seriously injuring the plaintiff. The defendants appealed from the denial of their motion for summary judgment.
Ruling: The Appellate Division held that the case involved an elevation risk with respect to the spreader bars, which were elevated above the ground at the time of the accident and required securing for the purposes of the undertaken. The plaintiff established that the harm flowed directly from the application of the force of gravity to the object and that it fell at a time when neither the plaintiff nor his supervisor wanted it to fall.
Phyliss A. Hafner, of Burden, Hafner & Hansen, for the defendants-appellants; John A. Collins, of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, for the plaintiffs-respondents.