Prats v. Port Auth. of NY & NJ

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtROSENBLATT, J.
Citation768 N.Y.S.2d 178,100 N.Y.2d 878,800 N.E.2d 351
Decision Date21 October 2003
PartiesNORBERTO PRATS et al., Appellants, v. PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, Respondent.

100 N.Y.2d 878
800 N.E.2d 351
768 N.Y.S.2d 178

NORBERTO PRATS et al., Appellants,
v.
PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, Respondent

Court of Appeals of the State of New York.

Argued September 9, 2003.

Decided October 21, 2003.


DiJoseph & Portegello, P.C., New York City (Arnold E. DiJoseph, III, of counsel), and Parker & Waichman, Great

100 N.Y.2d 879
Neck, for appellants

Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP, New York City (Richard E. Lerner, Helmut Beron and Meredith Drucker of counsel), for respondent.

Chief Judge KAYE and Judges SMITH, CIPARICK, GRAFFEO and READ concur.

OPINION OF THE COURT

ROSENBLATT, J.

In this Labor Law § 240 (1) case, plaintiff sustained injuries after falling from a ladder. At the time, he was an assistant mechanic for AWL Industries, a company that contracted with defendant Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to work on air-conditioning systems at the World Trade Center complex. AWL's contract involved cleaning, repairing and rehabilitating air handling units, including supports, anchors and piping in several buildings. The agreement provided that AWL, as contractor, was obligated to ascertain "the extent of

100 N.Y.2d 880
all construction" related to the project and to satisfy Port Authority's inspection standards. Some of the air handling units measured 20 by 20 feet and were built into the wall. Accordingly, the contract required AWL to level floors, lay concrete and rebuild walls to replace large air filtering systems

As an assistant mechanic, plaintiff worked on overhauling air-conditioning systems, and on return and exhaust units. He also assisted a more senior mechanic in changing bearings, motor sheaves and flywheels. His specific tasks varied as he received each day's assignments when signing in for work. On the day of the injury, plaintiff and coworker Bob Card were readying air handling units for inspection, using tools (wrenches, a welder set and "Craftsman-type" tools) to perform any work that had to be done. Card set up a ladder to inspect an air-conditioning return fan about eight feet tall, suspended at a height of approximately 20 feet. Plaintiff held the ladder while Card climbed up and onto the unit. Card then asked plaintiff to give him a wrench, and plaintiff began to climb the ladder. When he was about 15 feet off the ground, the ladder slid out from under him, and he fell. The ladder bounced off the floor and hit plaintiff in the face before he fell to the ground.

Plaintiff and his wife sued the Port Authority in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging a violation of New York Labor Law § 240 (1). The District Court granted defendant summary judgment on the section 240 (1) claim. Plaintiff appealed to the Second Circuit, which certified to us the question "whether the conduct at issue in this action, inspections of construction work, fell within the purview of New York Labor Law § 240 (1)." We accepted certification (99 NY2d 578 [2003]) and now answer the question in the affirmative.1

Labor Law § 240 (1) provides special protection to those engaged in the "erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure." Citing the language of the statute, defendant makes two arguments. First, defendant contends that "inspection" is not an enumerated activity and second, that plaintiff's inspection involved no more than routine maintenance. Plaintiff, on the other hand, asserts

100 N.Y.2d 881
that the inspection was performed in the context of "altering" the building. We address these contentions in turn

In asserting that the inspection falls outside of section 240, defendant relies principally on Martinez v City of New...

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104 practice notes
  • Crescent Beach Club LLC v. Indian Harbor Ins. Co., 18-CV-5951(SJF)(AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 22, 2020
    ..."must be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the context of the work." Prats v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J. , 100 N.Y.2d 878, 883, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (N.Y. 2003) ; accord Lawler v. Globalfoundries U.S., Inc. , No. 1:12-cv-0327, 2014 WL 4900480, at * (N......
  • Daza v. Pile Found. Constr. Co., No. 10 Civ. 4678(MGC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 6, 2013
    ...was akin to maintenance. It is true that § 240(1) does not cover routine maintenance activities. Prats v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 100 N.Y.2d 878, 882, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (2003). However, courts should examine a given injury “on a case-by-case basis, depending on the con......
  • In re World Trade Ctr. Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litig., Nos. 09 CV 680(AKH), 21 MC 102(AKH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 9, 2014
    ...since the abatement work could not continue unless he gave his approval.”); see also Prats v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J., 100 N.Y.2d 878, 882, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (2003) (“The intent of the statute was to protect workers employed in the enumerated acts, even while perfor......
  • In re World Trade Ctr. Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litig., Nos. 09 CV 680AKH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 9, 2014
    ...since the abatement work could not continue unless he gave his approval.”); see also Prats v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J., 100 N.Y.2d 878, 882, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (2003) (“The intent of the statute was to protect workers employed in the enumerated acts, even while perfor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
104 cases
  • Crescent Beach Club LLC v. Indian Harbor Ins. Co., 18-CV-5951(SJF)(AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 22, 2020
    ..."must be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the context of the work." Prats v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J. , 100 N.Y.2d 878, 883, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (N.Y. 2003) ; accord Lawler v. Globalfoundries U.S., Inc. , No. 1:12-cv-0327, 2014 WL 4900480, at * (N......
  • Daza v. Pile Found. Constr. Co., No. 10 Civ. 4678(MGC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 6, 2013
    ...was akin to maintenance. It is true that § 240(1) does not cover routine maintenance activities. Prats v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 100 N.Y.2d 878, 882, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (2003). However, courts should examine a given injury “on a case-by-case basis, depending on the con......
  • In re World Trade Ctr. Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litig., Nos. 09 CV 680(AKH), 21 MC 102(AKH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 9, 2014
    ...since the abatement work could not continue unless he gave his approval.”); see also Prats v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J., 100 N.Y.2d 878, 882, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (2003) (“The intent of the statute was to protect workers employed in the enumerated acts, even while perfor......
  • In re World Trade Ctr. Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litig., Nos. 09 CV 680AKH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 9, 2014
    ...since the abatement work could not continue unless he gave his approval.”); see also Prats v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J., 100 N.Y.2d 878, 882, 768 N.Y.S.2d 178, 800 N.E.2d 351 (2003) (“The intent of the statute was to protect workers employed in the enumerated acts, even while perfor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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