On May 13, 2005 a iron worker subcontractor for the construction manager of the New York Times Building located at 8th Avenue and 40th Street in Manhattan, was unloading two steel beams from a delivery truck. They were conducting an operation called, “shaking out the steel” in which each beam is lifted by a crane and rotated so that it is in the proper placement to be lifted up to the building where it will be placed. Each of the beams is about forty feet long, fourteen inches high, and thirty six inches wide. They weigh between 4 and 41 tons each. The first beam was lifted and placed down on the truck bed without issue. The second beam was going to need to be adjusted by the employee to rotate it into the proper position. The employee mounted the truck and was attempting to rotate the beam when the crane unexpectedly dropped the beam down onto the truck. The worker was knocked off of the truck and onto the ground. The first beam rolled off of the truck and landed on the employee while he lay prone on the ground. The commercial truck accident crushed the employees’ legs and caused one of his legs to be amputated. The second beam did not fall from the truck because it was still attached to the crane.
The injured worker filed a lawsuit against the building construction company under Labor Law §240. He stated that it applied because the object fell that was being lifted. The building construction company argued that Labor Law §240 did not apply in this case because at best when the pipe was hoisted by the crane, it did not go above the employees waist as he stood on the truck. The court disagreed. They felt that this is not simply the case of something falling off the back of a flatbed truck. The proximate cause of the accident was that the crane operator dropped the second beam which struck the first beam and knocked it off of the truck.
The employee also sought judgment under Labor Law §200 common-law negligence where it is the duty of an owner or general contractor to provide construction site workers with a reasonably safe place to work. However, the court ruled that since the company did not supervise the work or have direct knowledge of the hazard, that Labor Law §200 cannot apply.
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