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Michael Cutaia v. The Board of Managers of 160/170 Varick Street Condominium, et al.

This case involves the intersection of a few relatively common scenarios that pop up in the area of construction accidents: falls off ladders, A-frame ladders that are used in the closed position, and electric shocks that precipitate falls. The Appellate Division, First Department decided in favor of the injured worker that Labor Law 240(1), the “Scaffold Law,” was violated, with two judges dissenting. This decision accurately reflects the realities of working in the construction trades and is an important one to know if you are a construction accident attorney in New York. Cutaia was working as a plumbing mechanic to install plumbing piping for a renovation project. He was using a 10-foot tall A-frame ladder to do his work. At the time of the accident, he was working in an area that was not large enough for him to be able to open the A-frame ladder completely and so, therefore, he folder the ladder closed and leaned it against the wall. He climbed the ladder and when he grabbed onto piping, he received an electric shock that knocked him off the ladder. The majority of the Court based their decision on the following: 1) “the ladder could not be opened or locked” and the “only way [Cutaia] could gain access to his work area” was by “folding up the ladder and leaning it against the wall”; 2) “the ladder was not anchored to the floor or the wall”; 3) there were no other safety devices provided to him and an expert opined that Cutaia should have been given a more stable device

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    Construction worker/ laborer fell from the scaffold, jury verdict.
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