NEW YORK (Nov 3, 2022) – Marking a major win for national civil defense firm Tyson & Mendes, Justice Lyle Frank of the New York County Supreme Court granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the firm’s clients – AT&T, Mosaic Sales Solutions US Operating Co. and Wizard Studios North, Inc. – all of which were charged with violations of the New York State “Scaffold Law,” Labor Law § 240 (1) after a stagehand was injured during the setup for a promotional event celebrating the release of a major motion picture.
According to Faizan Habeeb, the New York-based Tyson & Mendes attorney who argued the case, the plaintiff sought $3.5 million after being involved in an accident that occurred in New York City’s Times Square during the setup for the “Batmobile Takes Gotham City” promotional event celebrating the release of the 2017 “Justice League” movie in conjunction with New York Comic Con 2017.
“The plaintiff, an on-call stagehand, was hired by our client’s production subcontractor which was retained as a ‘turn-key’ solution to set up and break down the event,” Habeeb said. “We represented the film studio, the experiential events marketing company, and the event production company, who planned and produced the event, which included a truss structure with a self-climbing roof, a video wall, Justice League memorabilia, and – coolest of all – the Batmobile and Bruce Wayne’s Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo from the movie. Wizard Studios subcontracted all technical aspects of the event to its subcontractor, KM Productions NY Inc., which put out a call for temporary stagehands for the project that the plaintiff responded to.”
Habeeb noted that the plaintiff’s role was specifically to decorate the truss structure at the ground level, yet “she took it upon herself to ‘freeclimb’ – without proper training, equipment or protection – 20 feet up the truss leg to hang vertical nylon banners using zip ties. Despite being warned not to do so, she attempted to climb the truss leg with a makeshift rigging connection to a safety harness not designed for climbing heights. While in the air, the rigging connection snapped, causing her to fall to the ground.” As a result, Habeeb said, her alleged injuries included a traumatic brain injury, multiple cervical and lumbar spine injuries, tears of various tendons in the left elbow, a fractured left wrist, and a pelvis fracture.
Plaintiff subsequently brought claims under the “Scaffold Law,” Labor Law 240 (1), which creates strict liability, without any consideration of fault, for property owners and general contractors when a construction worker falls from a height due to a lack of adequate safety devices. Habeeb noted that “as soon as we were retained and had an opportunity to review the facts, we knew that this was not Labor Law case – and in fact was not even a case in which the plaintiff had any meritorious claims against our clients.”
According to Habeeb, liability under New York’s “Scaffold Law” requires that the injured worker be engaged in construction or other related work which effectuates a significant physical change to a structure at the time of their accident. “In this case, it was very clear from the get-go that this was not a traditional ‘Scaffold Law’ case because the plaintiff’s work at the time of the accident produced only cosmetic changes to the truss structure – she used zip-ties to attach a vinyl banner to an already-completed structure. She did not perform any construction work for the event at all.”
For this reason, Habeeb moved for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s “Scaffold Law” claims. Justice Frank agreed and granted the motion.
“Ultimately, we won because of our intimate knowledge of the statutory liability framework under the Labor Law, extensive research and investigation at initial case intake, and development of a robust legal strategy targeted at dismissal that was implemented at every stage of litigation,” Habeeb said. “Once we had mapped and carried out that strategy, the only thing left for us to do was present our argument to the Court as cogently and persuasively as possible. And that’s exactly what we did.”
Tyson & Mendes is celebrating 20 years of protecting its clients’ interests and delivering justice both inside and outside the courtroom. The firm has established itself as a leader in driving down damages awards and reducing the likelihood of Nuclear Verdicts® – often defined as jury awards in excess of $10 million. Using a unique set of proven defense methods, the firm saved clients more than $667 million in 2021, and $611 million thus far in 2022.
For more information and to view career opportunities, visit www.tysonmendes.com.
About Tyson & Mendes LLP
Celebrating 20 years of taking back justice for all, Tyson & Mendes LLP is a nationwide, AV-rated litigation and trial firm specializing in insurance defense and protecting its clients from Nuclear Verdicts®. Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes founded the firm in 2002 to defend corporations, insurance companies, and their clients in civil litigation matters. The firm has experienced tremendous growth in the past two decades, with offices across the U.S. serving clients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The firm is most widely recognized for winning the landmark Howell v. Hamilton Meats California Supreme Court case, which forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by significantly impacting the damages a plaintiff may recover. Robert Tyson is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller Nuclear Verdicts®: Defending Justice for All, the first playbook for the defense on how to avoid runaway jury verdicts.
For more information, visit www.tysonmendes.com.