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Shaughnessy v. Huntington Hospital Association

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

February 15, 2017

Francis Shaughnessy, plaintiff-respondent,
v.
Huntington Hospital Association, doing business as Huntington Hospital, et al., defendants third-party plaintiffs-appellants-respondents, Energywise, Inc., defendant third-party defendant-respondent, HVAC, Inc., defendant third-party defendant-appellant, et al., third-party defendant. Index Nos. 16760/11, 320118/12

          Torino & Bernstein, P.C. (Carol R. Finocchio, New York, NY, of counsel), for defendants third-party plaintiffs-appellants-respondents.

          Andrea G. Sawyers, Melville, NY (David R. Holland of counsel), for defendant third-party defendant-appellant.

          Law Offices of James J. McCrorie, P.C. (Hogan & Cassell, LLP, Jericho, NY [Michael Cassell], of counsel), for plaintiff-respondent.

          Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, New York, NY (Patrick J. Lawless and Aaron Haimowitz of counsel), for defendant third-party defendant-respondent.

          LEONARD B. AUSTIN, J.P., JEFFREY A. COHEN, ROBERT J. MILLER, COLLEEN D. DUFFY, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the defendants third-party plaintiffs appeal, as limited by their brief, from so much of an order of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Pitts, J.), entered April 1, 2014, as granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability on the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1) insofar as asserted against them, and the defendant third-party defendant HVAC, Inc., separately appeals, as limited by its brief, from so much of the same order as denied its motion for summary judgment dismissing the causes of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 200 and common-law negligence insofar as asserted against it and the cross claim and third-party cause of action for common-law indemnification asserted against it, and for conditional summary judgment on its cross claim for common-law indemnification against the defendant third-party plaintiff Axis Construction Corp., and granted the motion of the defendant third-party defendant Energywise, Inc., for summary judgment on its cross claim for contractual indemnification against HVAC, Inc.

         ORDERED that the order is modified, on the law, (1) by deleting the provision thereof granting the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability on the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1) insofar as asserted against the defendants third-party plaintiffs, and substituting therefor a provision denying that motion, and (2) by deleting the provision thereof granting the motion of the defendant third-party defendant Energywise, Inc., for summary judgment on its cross claim for contractual indemnification against the defendant third- party defendant HVAC, Inc., and substituting therefor a provision denying that motion; as so modified, the order is affirmed, with costs to the defendants third-party plaintiffs payable by the plaintiff.

         On May 26, 2010, the plaintiff, a steamfitter, allegedly was injured when he fell from a ladder as he was installing refrigeration piping into a ceiling as part of a renovation project in a hospital owned by the defendant third-party plaintiff Huntington Hospital Association, doing business as Huntington Hospital (hereinafter Huntington Hospital). Huntington Hospital had retained the defendant third-party plaintiff Axis Construction Corp. (hereinafter Axis) to perform the renovation work. Axis subcontracted with the defendant third-party defendant Energywise, Inc. (hereinafter Energywise), to perform, inter alia, work on the air conditioning system. Energywise subcontracted with the defendant third-party defendant HVAC, Inc. (hereinafter HVAC), to perform a portion of its work, and HVAC in turn subcontracted with the third-party defendant Commercial Instrumentation Services, Inc. (hereinafter CIS).

         The plaintiff commenced this action to recover damages for personal injuries against Huntington Hospital, Axis, Energywise, and HVAC, alleging, inter alia, violations of Labor Law §§ 240(1) and 200 and common-law negligence. HVAC asserted, inter alia, a cross claim for common-law indemnification against Axis. Energywise asserted, inter alia, cross claims for contractual and common-law indemnification against HVAC. Axis and Huntington Hospital commenced a third-

         party action for, inter alia, common-law indemnification against Energywise, HVAC, and CIS.

         The plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability on the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1) insofar as asserted against Huntington Hospital and Axis. HVAC separately moved for summary judgment dismissing the causes of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 200 and common-law negligence insofar as asserted against it and the cross claim and third-party cause of action asserted against it for common-law indemnification, and for conditional summary judgment on its cross claim for common-law indemnification against Axis. Energywise separately moved for summary judgment on its cross claim for contractual indemnification against HVAC.

         The Supreme Court granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability on the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1) insofar as asserted against Huntington Hospital and Axis. The court also granted Energywise's motion for summary judgment on its cross claim for contractual indemnification against HVAC. The court denied HVAC's motion in its entirety.

         The Supreme Court improperly granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability on the cause of action alleging a violation of Labor Law § 240(1) insofar as asserted against Huntington Hospital and Axis, since the plaintiff failed to establish his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law as to that cause of action. "To establish liability pursuant to Labor Law § 240(1), a plaintiff must demonstrate a violation of the statute and that such violation was a proximate cause of his or her injuries'" (Kupiec v Morgan Contr. Corp., 137 A.D.3d 872, 873, quoting Cabrera v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y., 33 A.D.3d 641, 642). "A fall from a ladder, by itself, is not sufficient to impose liability under Labor Law § 240(1). There must be evidence that the subject ladder was defective or inadequately secured and that the defect, or the failure to secure the ladder, was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's injuries" (Melchor v Singh, 90 A.D.3d 866, 868 [citation omitted]; see Xidias v Morris Park Contr. Corp., 35 A.D.3d 850, 851).

         Here, the plaintiff's own submissions demonstrated the existence of triable issues of fact, inter alia, as to how the accident occurred, whether the ladder was inadequately secured, and whether the plaintiff's actions were the sole proximate cause of the accident (see Blake v Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of N.Y. City,1 N.Y.3d 280, 288-289; Degen v Uniondale Union Free Sch. Dist.,114 A.D.3d 822, 823; Singh v City of New York, 113 A.D.3d 605, 606-607; Corchado v 5030 Broadway Props., LLC,103 A.D.3d 768, 769; Robinson v Goldman Sachs Headquarters, LLC,95 A.D.3d 1096, 1097-1098). Consequently, the Supreme Court should have denied ...


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