New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

DOSSANTOS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-016-054, Claim No. 108915, Motion No. M-68839


Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Monsour, Winn, Kurland & Warner, LLP.By: John L. Kurland, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Fabiani & Cohen, LLPBy: Lisa A. Sokoloff, Esq.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 22, 2005
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The claim of Jaime Dossantos alleges that while working for L & L Painting on a contract his employer had with the State, a scaffold collapsed throwing a co-worker onto him. Claimant has moved for summary judgment under section 240 of the Labor Law, which is the subject of this Order.

At about 2 a.m. on August 26, 2003, Mr. Dossantos was working on Route 440 in Staten Island at the Alden Avenue overpass on a job involving sandblasting, painting and cleaning of the overpass structure and bridge abutment. He was working below the overpass in one of the southbound lanes with Jose Mores. Some 12 to 15 feet above these two, other members of the crew were working on a scaffold that was hanging from the overpass, when it suddenly gave way. One of the employees who was on the scaffold fell onto Dossantos, knocking him to the ground, injuring claimant's right leg and back. The foregoing narrative was supplied by claimant in his Affidavit of Merits as part of his motion papers. In the Affidavit, Dossantos was only able to identify the worker who fell on him by his first name or nickname, "Sammy."

The Affidavit of Mr. Mores was consistent with that of claimant, adding that he was directly involved as well, and that Sammy "landed on Mr. Dossantos and me." (Claimant's Notice of Motion). See also the Employer's Report of Work-Related Accident. (Claimant's Reply Affirmation, exh 3).

The following papers were submitted and reviewed:

1. Claimant's July 14, 2004 Notice of Motion, including an Affirmation by counsel, Dossantos' Affidavit of Merits and Mores' Affidavit, together with exhibits A through C.

2. Defendant's September 29, 2004 Affirmation in Opposition, together with exhibits A and B.

3. Claimant's October 19, 2004 Reply Affirmation, together with exhibits 1 through 3.

Defendant's Affirmation in Opposition was concerned with the timing of claimant's summary judgment motion, arguing that it was prematurely filed - - less than two weeks following service of a bill of particulars and that no substantive discovery had been conducted at the time; notably lacking was a deposition of Mr. Dossantos. At an on-the-record conference on March 24, 2005, the parties reported that claimant had been deposed, and at a June 27, 2005 conference they made it clear that this motion was ready to be decided. No additional papers were filed by defendant after those dated September 29, 2004, and thus the facts of the incident as set out above are undisputed.
Section 240 (1) of the Labor Law provides that scaffolds, among other devices, "be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection" to a construction worker. The Court of Appeals has explained that the risks that such provision is intended to safeguard against are "limited to such specific gravity-related accidents as falling from a height or being struck by a falling object that was improperly hoisted or inadequately secured . . . In other words, Labor

Law §240 (1) was designed to prevent those types of accidents in which the scaffold, hoist, stay, ladder or other protective device proved inadequate to shield the injured worker from harm directly flowing from the application of the force of gravity to an object or person." Ross v Curtis-Palmer Hydro-Electric Co., 81 NY2d 494, 501, 601 NYS2d 49, 52-53 (1993).

While typically, a worker in a case governed by §240 (1) is injured when he or she falls or is struck by an improperly hoisted object, clearly such comprehends a situation when one worker is hit by another worker who falls off a collapsing scaffold:
Indeed, where a safety device has been furnished, and it collapses, a prima facie case of liability under Labor Law 240 (1) is established . . . We conclude that this is so whenever the employee is injured as a result of this collapse, regardless of whether the employee was on or under the scaffold when it collapsed . . .

Thompson v St. Charles Condominiums
, 303 AD2d 152, 154, 756 NYS2d 530, 533 (1st Dept 2003) (citations omitted).


In view of the foregoing, the Clerk of the Court is directed to enter interlocutory judgment against the defendant for 100% liability as a consequence of Jaime Dossantos' accident of

August 26, 2003 and any injury resulting therefrom. The parties will be contacted to schedule a trial on damages and, if appropriate, a conference preceding the trial.

August 22, 2005
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims