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Court Overturns Jury's Verdict

 Appellate Court Overturns Jury's Verdict that Hotel Not Liable in Labor Law Claim:



A New York appellate court overturned a jury's verdict in favor of a hotel on a worker's Labor Law claim, finding there was no rational basis for the jury to have concluded the hotel was not liable for failing to provide the worker with adequate protection from the risk of falling.


Case: Vinasco v. Intell Times Square Hotel, No. 2013-01467, 11/05/2014, published.


Facts: The Intell Times Square Hotel hired United Steel Production to remove a metal gate, weighing approximately 200 pounds, from its property.


John J. Vinasco worked for United and he allegedly suffered injuries while helping remove the gate.


Vinasco was standing on an unsecured ladder as the gate was being lifted from the hotel building by a hoist.


When he pulled at a cable which was tangled around the gate, the gate fell, striking him and the ladder, and propelling them to the ground.


Procedural History: Vinasco sued the hotel for a violation of Labor Law Section 240(1). At the close of evidence, he moved for a directed verdict in his favor.


Queens County Supreme Court Justice Nelson Brathwaite denied his motion, and the jury later returned a verdict in favor of the hotel. Vinasco appealed.


Analysis: The Appellate Division's 2nd Department said Vinasco had been entitled to a directed verdict on his Section 240(1) cause of action.


The court reasoned that there was no rational process by which the jury could find that the hotel did not violate Section 240(1).


"Upon the evidence presented, the jury could not rationally have concluded that the hoist which was holding the gate was adequate under the statute, that the unsecured ladder from which the plaintiff fell afforded him adequate protection, or that the inadequacy of the hoist and ladder was not the proximate cause of the injury," the court said. Accordingly, the court ordered that judgment be entered in Vinasco's favor.


Disposition: Reversed and remitted.


To read the decision, click here.

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