Trief & Olk Wins Summary Judgment in Complex Construction Accident Case

Trief & Olk recently won an appeal of an order which granted the plaintiff summary judgment of a complex Labor Law 241(6) claim. The case involved a plaintiff who suffered an electric shock as a result of dangerous conditions at a construction site. The order, which is a ruling by the Court, finds that the building owner defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, and, equally as important, the plaintiff is not at all at fault. The case will proceed to trial where a jury will determine whether a second defendant, an electrical contractor, is also partially responsible, and the value of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Trief & Olk’s success is particularly notable because summary judgment for plaintiffs with Labor Law 241(6) claims is fairly uncommon. Under Labor Law 241(6), a building owner or general contractor can be held liable for injuries at a construction site if there was a violation of New York’s Industrial Code and the violation caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Summary judgment is relatively rare, because, not only must the plaintiff demonstrate that Labor Law 241(6) was violated, but he must also demonstrate that he did not partially cause the injuries through his own negligence, known as comparative negligence. If there are any facts from which a jury may find that the plaintiff negligently caused or contributed to the incident, summary judgment will be denied so that a jury can determine the extent to which the plaintiff and the defendant(s) were at fault.

Trief & Olk was able to demonstrate to the Court that summary judgment was appropriate by use of all the tools available to the firm. Specifically, Trief & Olk was able to show through deposition testimony, accident reports, and an affidavit from the plaintiffs’ electrical engineering expert that the condition of the electrical wiring at the job site violated the Industrial Code because it was energized, not grounded, and not otherwise guarded. The defendant attempted to avoid liability by denying that the plaintiff suffered an electric shock, but Trief & Olk used objective signs of injury from the accident reports, the defendant’s own expert reports, a videotaped deposition from the plaintiff’s treating physician, and hospital records to show that, despite the defendant’s protestations, all of the evidence confirmed the electrical shock occurred.

The defendant also attempted to avoid liability by arguing that the plaintiff, a construction supervisor, was to blame for the electrical conditions at the job site. Trief & Olk defeated this argument by showing that the plaintiff argued with his boss about the electrical work, insisted that licensed contractors do the work to ensure its safety, but was overruled.

Trief & Olk also defeated the electrical contractor’s attempts to win summary judgment against the plaintiff by alerting the Court that the electrical contractor filed its motion after the deadline. While Trief & Olk had the utmost confidence that it would have defeated the electrical contractor’s motion on its merits, the Court did not even get that far, agreeing with Trief & Olk that the motion should be summarily denied as late.

Trief & Olk represents injured individuals in a variety of personal injury actions, including construction accidents. If you have been injured in a construction accident or any other cause, contact Trief & Olk by telephone or via our website’s submission form to find out more about how Trief & Olk can help you.