In yesterday’s post we discussed a new case from the Court of Appeals where a volunteer worker falling from a ladder could not receive recovery under Labor Law 240 (1). See our prior post, “A Volunteer Worker Injured in ‘Turkey Hunt’ Cannot Be Protected under Labor Law 240 (1).”
In that post we discussed that a volunteer could not sue under the statute. A volunteer is not the same as a worker or employee who would get the statute’s protection. Labor Law 240 (1) alllows an injured construction worker to recover against the general contractor and building owner without showing negligence. The statute does not protect volunteers.
About 15 years ago we had a similar case involving a volunteer.
Joe was a family friend and patient of Dr. Vito, a well-known neurologist in the Hudson Valley. Joe occasionally did household chores and construction work around Dr. Vito’s home and parents’ home, such as minor repairs, cleanning the yard, and driving the parents. Joe did these chores both with and without compensation.
Dr. Vito had Joe clean the dead leaves from the roof and gutter of Dr. Vito’s parents’ home. Joe did not want to do this, but the doctor insisted that Joe go. Joe felt obligated to do this chore for his friend and doctor, and he undertook the work. Joe fell from the ladder. He sustained a very serious fracture involving surgery (open reduction with external fixation).
An interesting fact is that Joe was under Dr. Vito’s care for neuropathy in his legs. He had problems standing and balancing. He did not want to go up the ladder because he felt that he could fall, but Dr. Vito kept insisting.
Labor Law 240 (1) was unavailable because
- Joe was engaged in routine maintenance and cleaning rather than construction. The statute covers only construction and demolition activities.
- Joe was an unpaid volunteer.
We did proceed against Dr. Vito on the theory that he placed his volunteer in a dangerous situation. As Joe’s neurologist treating him for leg neuropathy, Dr. Vito knew that he should not have sent Joe on the ladder. We also claimed that Dr. Vito was negligent in failing to “spot” Joe while Joe was climbing the ladder.
Fortunately, we were able to obtain a favorable settlement for Joe.
If you have been injured please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434.