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Slip and Fall accident at a warehouse injured person

Construction Site Safety Duty & New York’s Scaffold Law

New York’s Scaffold Law has roots in construction site safety

Construction sites are full of activity. Between large trucks being moved around and cranes hoisting large objects high above the ground, construction workers have a lot to be aware of. Although workers must exercise caution on work sites, they also deserve to be protected from the dangers associated with modern construction. This idea was the basis for New York’s Scaffold Law, which was enacted nearly 130 years ago.

As buildings were growing taller near the turn of the 20th century, construction workers faced new and more frequent dangers. Due to the risk associated with working from scaffolding and falling objects, lawmakers were motivated to protect workers from unnecessary workplace dangers.

Specifically, the law addresses safety concerns associated with construction completed above ground. Contractors and property owners became responsible for the safety and proper construction of machinery, structures and other tools that aid in building. The law also allows injured workers to pursue civil claims if responsible parties fail to uphold the law’s requirements.

Although this law has been on the books for more than a century, certain people are lobbing criticism. As such, there are efforts to change the face of the law in order to limit the liability of property owners and contractors.

Of course, many people have also raised concerns about changing the Scaffold Law. For so many years, the law has promoted work site safety and has guarded construction workers against injuries.

Employers have a duty to ensure that their employees aren’t harmed in preventable accidents. On a very basic level, the long-standing Scaffold Law does just that. Moving forward, the hope is that construction workers don’t lose the protections they’ve relief on for so many years.

Source: The New York Times, “Contractors and Workers at Odds Over Scaffold Law,” Kirk Semple, Dec. 17, 2013

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Autistic Boy Goes Missing: NYC School During Security Lapse

New York City school security lapse allows autistic boy to leave

Parents send their children to school trusting that the kids will return home safe and sound at the end of the day. School safety and security officials play an important role in controlling entrance and exit points in buildings in order to make sure only authorized visitors are allowed in and students don’t leave the campus unnecessarily.

Issues of negligent security are involved in the case of a 14-year-old New York boy who has been missing since he left his school in October 2013. The boy, who has autism and is non-verbal, has not turned up since he went missing. Efforts to locate him are still ongoing.

According to a report released by the Queens school, security guards allowed him to slip out the door. While the student was moving with his class down the school’s hallway, he ran off and past the security desk. He eventually managed to exit a door that was left open.

After the boy was reported missing, school security officials apparently made conflicting statements about what happened. Whatever the case, it seems as though school staff should have been more attentive to what was happening. Knowing that the student has special needs should have been of particular concern to them.

As a result of this incident, the teen’s parents have filed a claim against the city.

Of course, there’s no indication whether or not the boy in this case has suffered physical injury as a result of his escape. Still, this is an important reminder of the duty schools owe to parents and students. No one should have to worry that their child will be able to escape school as the result of insufficient security.

Source: New York Daily News, “Avonte Oquendo, missing Queens autistic teen, slipped past school security desk: lawyer,” Ben Chapman, Dec. 27, 2013

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Dog Bite Case: Action Against Defendant to Recover Damages Dismissed

Dog Bite Case, action against defendant’s dismissed

Decided on December 26, 2013



(Index No. 33521/09)

[*1]Emmeline Sareyani-Coffey, respondent,


Nancy McAleer, as Administrator of the Estate of Ann Zelda Shikora, also known as Annzelda Shikora, deceased, et al., appellants.

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the defendants appeal an order of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Cohalan, J.), dated May 29, 2012, as denied their respective motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The Appellate Division reversed, and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

The plaintiff sued for personal injuries as a result of being attacked by a dog the defendant was taking care of while the dog’s owner’s were on vacation.

To recover in strict liability in tort for a dog bite or attack, a plaintiff must prove that the dog had vicious propensities and that “the owner or the person in control of the dog” knew or should have known of such propensities. Here, The evidence submitted established that the “defendants were not aware, nor should they have been aware, that this dog had ever bitten anyone or exhibited any aggressive behavior” and the plaintiff, in opposition, failed to submit any evidence sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact.

The Appellate Division also found that the Supreme Court also should also dismissed the cause of action for common law negligence, since “New York does not recognize a common-law negligence cause of action to recover damages for injuries caused by a domestic animal”

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Building Lobby Slip and Fall Case Action Reinstated by AD

Slip and Fall case in a lobby of a building, action reinstated

Osbourne v 80-90 Maiden Lane Del, LLC (2013 NY Slip Op 08602)

Decided on December 26, 2013



(Index No. 8697/09)

[*1]Juliet Osbourne, appellant,


80-90 Maiden Lane Del, LLC, et al.,

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Kings County dismissing the case. Appellate Division reversed and reinstated the complaint.

The plaintiff alleged that she fell on an accumulation of rainwater in the lobby of a building owned by the defendants. The law is that a defendant [landowner] may be held liable for an injury proximately caused by a dangerous condition created by water, snow, or ice tracked into a building if it either created the hazardous condition, or had actual or constructive notice of the condition and a reasonable time to undertake remedial action.

Here, the Appellate Division found that since the moving defendants failed to present any evidence as to when the subject area was last cleaned or inspected before the plaintiff’s fall, they failed to establish, prima facie, that they did not have constructive notice of the allegedly dangerous. Accordingly, the AD held that the Supreme Court should have denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

vehicle damaged in accident

Collision Trial on Damages & Plaintiff Directed Verdict was Denied

Rear end collision, directed verdict for plaintiff should have been granted

Trial on the issue of damages only is ordered.

Clarke v Phillips (2013 NY Slip Op 08585)

Decided on December 26, 2013


(Index No. 7516/10)

[*1]Jellicoe Clarke, appellant,


Derek J. Phillips, respondent.

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the plaintiff appeals from (1) a judgment of the Supreme Court, Dutchess County which denied the plaintiff’s request for a directed verdict at the close of the evidence at trial and which resulted in a verdict in favor of the defendant.

The AD ordered the judgment reversed, the complaint is reinstated, the plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 4401 for judgment as a matter of law is granted, and the matter is remitted to the Supreme Court, Dutchess County, for a trial on the issue of damages and for an appropriate amended judgment thereafter.

This case involves a rear-end collision between two cars. At trial, the plaintiff testified that his car was fully stopped at a red traffic light, that he remained stopped even after the light turned green to let pedestrians finish crossing the street, and that his car was then struck in the rear by the defendant’s car.

The defendant testified that, prior to the accident, his car was fully stopped behind the plaintiff’s car, and when the traffic light changed to green, the plaintiff’s car began to move forward and the defendant, in turn, moved forward. As he began to move forward, the defendant saw a group of pedestrians on the sidewalk to the right, and he turned his head to the right for a split second to make sure that no one darted out in front of him. When he brought his attention back to the road ahead of him, he saw that the plaintiff’s car had come to a stop because a pedestrian had run out in front of the plaintiff. The defendant could not stop his vehicle in time to avoid the accident.

The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 4401 for judgment as a matter of law made at the close of evidence. The jury found that the defendant was negligent, but that his negligence was not a proximate cause of the accident. A judgment was entered in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff, dismissing the complaint. Thereafter, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s subsequent motion pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) to set aside the verdict and for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability or, in the alternative, to set aside the verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence and for a new trial.

A trial court’s grant of a motion for judgment as a matter of law is appropriate where the trial court finds that, upon the evidence presented, there is no rational process by which the fact trier could base a finding in favor of the nonmoving party.

A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle creates a prima facie case of negligence with respect to the operator of the moving car and imposes a duty on that driver to rebut the inference of negligence by providing a nonnegligent explanation for the collision.

Here, the AD found that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant, there is no rational process by which the jury could find that the defendant had a nonnegligent explanation for the accident, or that the plaintiff was, to any extent, at fault in the happening of the accident. Thus, the accident was attributable to the defendant’s own inattentiveness in taking his eyes off the road in front of him, and not to any negligence on the part of the plaintiff

Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have granted the plaintiff’s motion for judgment as a matter of law made at the close of evidence.

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New York City Elementary School Closes Playground Citing Safety

Winter is a joyful time of year — especially for young children. Between the holidays, break from school and snow on the ground, there’s a lot to look forward to. The reality, however, is that winter weather can pose challenges and safety risks, especially in terms of potential slip-and-fall accidents.

Not long ago, school in New York’s Upper West Side made the decision to close their playground due to concerns that it might not be safe for children. The playground at this school features large cement blocks that form a slope. After a recent snowfall, it became impossible to completely clear the blocks, so there were concerns that kids could slip and fall.

Of course, children might be disappointed that they will miss out on recess time for the remainder of the winter. However, safety issues were an overriding concern.

In addition to safety issues in the winter, parents of schoolchildren have previously voiced concerns about the playground. For some time, there have been efforts to redesign the playground, which has been deemed as dangerous by some. In fact, some have attributed serious injuries to the playground’s existing design, because the blocks pose a tripping hazard without snow on the ground.

This school’s decision may serve as a reminder for property owners this winter. If there’s any indication that children might be playing on their property, it may be important to make sure that snow or ice is cleared in order to prevent slip-and-fall injuries.

At the same time, those who are injured due to a failure to maintain property for winter condition may want to be advised of their legal options. The health effects of a serious injury, such as a concussion, can be especially concerning for young people who are going through critical stages of development.

Source: DNAinfo New York, “Snow Closes ‘Dangerous’ UWS Playground to Students During Recess,” Emily Frost, Dec. 19, 2013

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