On August 1, 2005 an employee of a construction company was working on a construction site when he was injured. He was working as a laborer taking out tile, glass and fixtures from old apartments at the site and taking them to the dumpster. When one dumpster filled up, his manager told him to drag the empty dumpster from across the street over to the side of the street that he was working on in order to start putting debris into it. One of the sheet rock trucks was blocking the location and the manager told him to ask the sheet rock people to move that truck over to make room for the dumpster. The worker went over to the truck and asked the sheet rock workers to move the truck. As they started to move the truck, the worker was walking backward, guiding the sheet rock truck when he stepped on to a manhole cover. The manhole cover popped up onto its side and the worker fell into the hole with both legs. There were several witnesses to his fall. The worker testified at trial that earlier he had seen some water department people draining the fire hydrant into the man hole and that they had removed the cover and one man had gone down in to the hole. He stated that he had not seen any of the construction people on the site that he worked with anywhere near the man hole prior to his fall. This did not happen in Queens or Long Island.
There are several questions of fact in this case. First of all, the Justices cannot determine who owned the housing that was being worked on at the time of the truck accident. They also cannot determine who actually owns the property where the incident occurred. No deeds or affidavits have been submitted clarifying ownership. There is a question of who owned the manhole and who worked on the manhole thereby establishing who had responsibility to operate and maintain the manhole.
The Justices in this case determine that there are enough questions of fact to require a jury to hear this case. They determined that there could well be a findable case under Labor Law §241 for the fall and that as such, they are precluded from deciding on any summary judgment. It is so ordered by this Court that a trial shall be held in this case.
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