Meredith Bernstein, Partner

Meredith Bernstein successfully defeated the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in the matter Injai v. Circle F Jackson (DE), LLC

Meredith Bernstein successfully defeated the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in the matter Injai v. Circle F Jackson (DE), LLC, et. al./Index No.: 713090/2019.  The plaintiff, Ronny Injai, claimed to have fallen from a wooden egress ladder, that was allegedly not properly secured, while transporting concrete forms to another floor.  At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was working for the third-party defendant, Sovereign Industries Group, Inc.  The plaintiff moved for summary judgment under Labor Law §240(1), claiming that our clients were strictly liable under the Labor Law as the property owner and General Contractor for the construction project.  Plaintiff argued a violation of Labor Law §241(6), predicated on a claimed violation of New York State Industrial Code §23-1.21(b)(4)(ii), which requires that all ladder footings be firm.  In opposition, we submitted the affidavit of an expert engineer, Joseph Lucchesi, P.E., who reviewed a photograph of the subject ladder and the plaintiff’s deposition testimony, and provided an affidavit opining that the ladder in question could not possibly have wobbled at the time that the plaintiff was using it.  We also argued that plaintiff was not using the ladder in the manner it was intended and, therefore, was the sole proximate cause of his accident.  Despite the plaintiff’s contention that Mr. Lucchesi’s affidavit should not be considered since his opinion that the ladder in question was properly secured was based solely on a photograph, Hon. Frederic D.R. Sampson found that an issue of fact exists since the plaintiff testified that prior to his accident he had used the ladder to carry the forms to the upper floor 20 to 25 times without the ladder moving.

Justice Sampson also granted our cross-motion for summary judgment against Sovereign. Marsha Quinche prepared the motion, which argued that pursuant to the terms of the contract between our client, Zhong Wang Construction Services, and Sovereign, our clients are owed contractual and common law indemnification. Although Sovereign argued that the motion should be denied because the plaintiff was actually an employee of non-appearing second third-party defendant, Conquista Construction Corp., the Court held that Sovereign’s argument was without merit since the Workers’ Compensation Board determined that the plaintiff was an employee of Sovereign and, as such, the issue had been decided.