Justice Joan M. Kenney


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Plaintiff, a union ironworker, brought an action to recover damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained while operating a scissor lift at a construction site at 50 UN Plaza. The court granted plaintiff partial summary judgment as to liability on his Labor Law §240(1) claim against defendants. The court held that plaintiff showed that the lift he was working on at the time of the accident was a safety device and that it “failed to provide adequate protection for the elevation-related work he was performing.” In addition, the fact that the lift toppled over merely because one wheel was situated on a very slight one-inch incline establishes that the lift was not a proper safety device for the task at hand. Defendants contended that plaintiff was solely at fault because he chose to place the lift in a manner in which one wheel was partially on a slight elevation, plaintiff failed to properly train himself in the operation of the lift or read the lift’s manual or warnings, and plaintiff failed to utilize all of the safety features of the lift, like the outriggers. The court disagreed, noting that all of these actions on plaintiff’s part go to the issue of comparative fault, which is not a defense to a Labor Law §240(1) cause of action.