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Pipe Accident

Construction site pipe accident

A construction foreman for a construction project sustained an injury in a pipe accident.  The accident occurred at a job undertaken by the City of New York and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The foreman was using a pneumatic pipe plug to pressure test a pipe. According to the injured foreman’s affidavit, he inspected the plug and found it normal. He proceeded three to four feet into the pipe. He inserted the plug into its interior and inflated the plug slightly to check it for leaks. Upon noticing several air bubbles on the plug (which suggested a leak) the foreman called over supervisor from his company. The supervisor told him that the plug was defective and to discontinue using it.

As soon as the supervisor stepped away from the pipe his accident occurred. The plug exploded without warning, which propelled the foreman into the air and into an “I” beam. Because of this, the injured foreman sued the City of New York and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to recover damages for personal injuries.


The Pipe Accident Lawsuit

The plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability. He moved under his causes of action based on common-law negligence and violations of Labor Law §200 and 241(6). First, the lower court denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. Upon a search of the record, the Court awarded summary judgment to the defendants dismissing plaintiff’s Labor Law §241(6) claim.  Plaintiff appealed.


The Appeal

The appellate court held that the lower court properly denied that the plaintiff’s motion regarding his pipe accident. First, the appellate explained that liability under Labor Law §200 generally falls into two broad categories. The first category protects workers directed to perform work in an unsafe manner. The second category protects workers injured as a result of dangerous or defective premises conditions at a work site.

Recovery against the owner or general contractor for common-law negligence or a violation of Labor Law §200 is predicated on that defendant having the authority to supervise or control the performance of the work. Here, the Court reasoned that plaintiff failed to establish that defendants had the authority to supervise or control his work. Therefore, the Court did not grant plaintiff’s motion on his common law negligence claim from his pipe accident. In addition, the Court could not grant plaintiff’s motion on his Labor Law §200 claim. Only a jury could decide this claim.

The Court further ruled that when a claim arises out of an alleged dangerous premises condition, a property owner or general contractor may be held liable in common-law negligence and under Labor Law §200 when the owner or general contractor has control over the work site, and either created the dangerous condition causing an injury, or failed to remedy the dangerous or defective condition while having actual or constructive notice of it. Additionally, the court held that plaintiff failed to establish that defendants either created or had actual or constructive notice of an allegedly dangerous condition constituting a proximate cause of the subject accident.


Was the Industrial Code Violated?

Finally, the Court held that in order to recover under Labor Law §241(6), a plaintiff must plead and prove a violation of a specific provision of the Industrial Code, which sets forth a specific standard of conduct and not simply a recitation of common-law safety principles.  Here, the Court held, the plaintiff failed to cite any Industrial Code violation applicable to his pipe accident. Additionally, none of the cited code sections was specific enough to sustain a Labor Law §241(6) claim.  The Court held that because plaintiff failed prove it, defendants could not be found liable for the accident under Labor Law §241(6).

Accordingly, the Second Department affirmed decision of the lower court. Only the difficult to prove Labor Law §200 and common law negligence claims remained. He needed an experienced construction accident firm like The Platta Law Firm to ensure this did not happen. Do not make the same mistake. If you suffer a pipe accident, call The Platta Law Firm today.

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