William T. J. Salerno Prevails on Appeal in this NY Labor Law 241(6) Case: Appellate Division Reverses Lower Court’s Denial of Summary Judgment to Property Owner/Insured; Plaintiff’s Complaint Dismissed in its Entirety

The 25 year-old male plaintiff alleged that he sustained a significant and permanent injury to his cervical and lumbar spine with resulting nerve damage that subsequently required him to undergo multiple surgeries with the insertion of surgical hardware. At the time of the injury, the plaintiff was employed as an HVAC maintenance and repair technician. He sustained his injury during the course of performing a seasonal “start-up” on a cooling tower located on the premises of the property owner/insured. The plaintiff made a seven figure demand on the grounds that his injury left him permanently disabled, unable to work, and sexually impotent.

Since workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for an injured worker under New York State law, the plaintiff’s sole avenue for relief was against the property owner/insured. He asserted a negligence claim and violations of New York Labor Law §§ 200 and 241(6). The lower court granted our motion for summary judgment on the negligence and the NYLL § 200 claims, but denied our motion on the NYLL § 241(6) claim.

The critical question on appeal was whether the maintenance work performed by the plaintiff was “routine maintenance” in a nonconstruction, nonrenovation context. In reversing the lower court’s order, the Appellate Division, Second Department agreed with our argument and held that the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact sufficient to establish that the work the plaintiff was performing at the time of his injury consisted of something more than “routine maintenance,” which routine maintenance falls outside the scope of NYLL § 241(6). The plaintiff’s first two causes of action previously were dismissed by the lower court. The end result is that the plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed in its entirety pending the plaintiff’s time to appeal the Order.