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Bonilla-Reyes v. Ribellino (2019 WL 693287)

February 26, 2019 • Posted By • Labor & Employment

The Second Department has recently provided additional clarity regarding "Labor Law" injuries allegedly sustained by construction workers performing labor on an elevated platform. 

In Bonilla-Reyes v. Ribellino, 2019 WL 693287 (2d Dep't February 20, 2019), David Bonilla-Reyes, the plaintiff in the underlying action, was a day laborer who was allegedly injured after falling from the platform of a raised forklift while stocking shelves inside a Brooklyn warehouse.  The Plaintiff had been hired to perform a myriad of tasks related to the warehouse's renovation, including demolition of an interior office and assembly of metal shelving units. Plaintiff subsequently sued the owners and the tenant of the warehouse to recover damages for the personal injuries purportedly sustained as a result of his fall. 

Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment and the plaintiff cross-moved for his own summary judgment. Judge Genine D. Edwards of the Supreme Court, Kings County, granted the defendants' motion pursuant to Labor Law Section 240(1), but denied plaintiff's cross-motion as Mr. Bonilla-Reyes acknowledged that a triable "issue of fact" existed as to whether he was engaged in an activity covered under the Labor Law. 

 Upon review, the Second Department sustained denial of the plaintiff's cross-motion but overturned the order granting defendants' motion, stating that the defendants' "failed to establish their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law" because they "failed to demonstrate, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff's activity in stocking shelves was not performed as part of the larger renovation project that h had been hired to complete on the premises."

By virtue of this decision, the Second Department again confirms that a Labor Law defendant seeking summary judgment pursuant to section 240(1) must demonstrate that the activity of the injured party was not part of a larger renovation project that would involve " erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure" and not just assume that a "simple" task like stocking shelves is prima facie evidence that the worker was not performing activity under the Labor Law.