The plaintiff was employed by an HVAC company and was dropping off piping at public school location for work to be performed on a later date. When plaintiff and her supervisor reached the second floor of the school, they entered a mechanical room, each carrying ~50 pounds of ten foot long metal conduit piping. While plaintiff was maneuvering around the air handler and overhead piping with the conduit on her shoulder, she tripped and fell over two extension cords. Although the plaintiff admitted seeing the extension cords and acknowledged that she must not have raised her left foot up high enough to step over the cord before tripping, she claimed that the defendant had violated Industrial Code 22 NYCRR § 23-1.7(e)(2) because the extension cords were laying uncovered in the middle of the floor and therefore alleged that defendant was liable pursuant to Labor Law §241(6) and was otherwise negligent.
At this bifurcated trial of liability only, Attorney Smallacombe successfully maintained that the cords were being used for the work onsite that day, i.e., working on pipe hangars welding and hangars in the three mechanical rooms upstairs in an area where no one except a worker would be and that it was reasonable and consistent with the work being performed, and integral to the work they were performing, to not hang the extension cords from the ceiling or cover the extension cords with a mat because they could not move freely along the pipes to perform their work that way and there was no expectation of anyone else coming into the room that day, although they conceded that other trades did use those rooms on occasion. Following less than 20 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant.