Thomas M. Bona, P.C.

Attorneys At Law



First Department:

Offloading From Truck Covered Under Labor Law Section 240


As part of our continuing commitment to provide outstanding representation and to serve as an information resource, we wish to inform you of a recent decision from the Appellate Division on the Labor Law.


One of the most interesting aspects of the Labor Law is that the fact patterns from which the cases arise are extremely varied and diverse. That is why Labor Law cases are fact intensive and no rote application of the law can provide the correct answer to whether or not a claim falls under the Labor Law. A recent case decided by the First Department.


In Grant v. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the plaintiff was injured when a crate of glass that he was preparing for offloading from the back of a flatbed truck for a window installation at the museum, tipped over onto him, knocking him to the ground. Plaintiff commenced an action under Labor Law Sections 240(1) and Labor Law 200. The plaintiff moved for summary judgment and the museum and construction company defendants moved for summary judgment dismissing the claims against them. The lower court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiff’s for summary judgment under Labor Law Section 240. Plaintiff appealed and the First Department reversed.


The First Department rejected the defendants’ contention that preparing a 6 ft. tall crate weighing 1500 lbs. for hoisting did not pose an elevated related risk for the plaintiff within the meaning of Labor Law Section 241. The Court noted that the crate was an object that required securing for the purpose of the work. The First Department found that there was unrebutted evidence that various devices, including wooden blocks for bracing, would have stabilized the crate while it was being maneuvered into a position to have slings placed on it for hoisting by a crane. Since the plaintiff was never provided with proper safety devices, his use of a J-bar to move the crate into position was not the sole proximate cause of the accident which would have dismissed the case.


The Court noted that the plaintiff testified that in the past when he had used a J-bar under a crate on a flatbed truck, a coworker would stabilize the crate by holding it. The First Department found that at the time, no one stabilized the crate of glass as the plaintiff used the J-bar to separate the crates. Thus, the First Department found that summary judgment should have been awarded to plaintiff on the Labor Law Section 240(1) claim since this was an elevation related risk which required safety devices pursuant to the Labor Law. The First Department found however that because the flatbed was a temporary condition necessary for the crane to unload in the limited space available, it was not a dangerous work site condition but part of the means and methods of work over which the museum and construction company had no supervision or control and therefore plaintiff’s Labor Law Section 200 claim for failure to provide a safe place to work was not valid. 


As the case demonstrates, the Labor Law provides endless wrinkles and plaintiff’s will always look to use the most creative application of the Labor Law they can develop. It is always important to test the plaintiff’s claims, often using a motion for summary judgment.


Should you have any questions, please call.


Thomas M. Bona