Labor Law 240(1) decision from Court of Appeals helps plaintiffs
Recently, on December 17, 2009, the Court of Appeals of the State of New York decided a case called Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, 2009 WL 4840213, NY Slip Op 09310 (2009). It clarified the state of the law with respect to construction accident or Labor Law cases where an object falls and comes into contact with a worker. These are commonly referred to as “falling object” cases. The Court held that there is no strict requirement that the worker and the falling object make contact. The proper question to ask is not whether the object hit the worker but rather “whether the harm flows directly from the application of the force of gravity to the object.” Ibid. In Runner, the plaintiff was injured while transporting a large wire wheel down a flight of stairs. As the wheel descended the injured worker was pulled into a metal bar injuring his hands. It may no longer be required that the object fall from a height above the worker or that that object hit the worker. Such an expansive reading of the Labor Law is a step in the right direction in accordance with the legislative intent behind the Labor Law.