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Dupée & Monroe, P.C., Attorneys at Law
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Dupée & Monroe Wins $1.75 Million for Family of Construction Worker Killed in Wallkill Fall

Orange County Courthouse in Goshen NY

After a period of litigation culminating in oral argument presented in the Supreme Court of New York, County of Orange, our team won a summary judgment that enabled us to settle a case for our client on extremely favorable terms. While no amount of money makes up for the loss of a loved one, we were able to obtain $1.75 million for the family of a construction worker who was killed in a fall while inspecting a roof in the Town of Wallkill. This fatal accident would never have happened if the worker had been provided with the proper safety supports, and we are pleased to have achieved both justice and significant compensation for the grieving family that was left behind due to this tragedy.


The case was Kenneth E. Perez-Beteta, as Administrator of the Estate of Heriberto Jose Beteta-Paz and Tracy Diana Beteta-Cerdas, an infant, by her Mother and Natural Guardian, Ashley Diana Cerdas-Quintamilla, against v. R&P Contracting, Inc. and Pine Bush Creek, LLC.

In December 2019, Heriberto Jose Beteta-Paz was inspecting a portion of the roof of a vacant commercial warehouse in the Orange County Town of Wallkill. While on the roof, he stepped onto a plastic skylight that had been obscured by snow. Unfortunately, Mr. Beteta-Paz went through the skylight and fell to his death.

We sued the warehouse owner and the general contractor on the construction project under a set of New York Labor Laws written especially to protect construction workers and provide them with a safe work environment, namely NY Labor Law 200, 240(1) and 241. Section 200 is a general negligence law that imposes a general duty on property owners and contractors to protect the health and safety of employees by providing reasonable and adequate safety equipment, lighting, etc. Sections 240 and 241 together make up New York’s “Scaffold Law,” which is intended to protect construction workers from gravity-related and height-related accidents, including falls, being struck by falling objects, scaffolding collapses, and more.

The Scaffold Law and Strict Liability

Section 240(1) creates a statutory cause of action that holds an owner or contractor strictly liable to provide adequate protection for work being performed at a construction site. “Strict liability” means that the injured worker’s own negligence does not keep the worker from pursuing a claim and does not serve as a defense to liability for the owner or contractor. One need only prove that 240(1) was violated and the violation was the proximate cause of the injury.

The Scaffold Law was written to put the responsibility for worksite safety on owners and contractors since workers lack the means of protecting themselves from accidents. The law applies any time an inherent risk emanates from the height at which the work is to be performed or from the application of the force of gravity to an object or person.

Specifically, section 240(1) states:

“All contractors, owners, and their agents in the erection of a building or structure must furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected, for the performance of such labor, scaffolding, hoists, ladders, stays, hangers, slings, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which must be o constructed, placed, and operated s to give proper protection to a person so employed.”

Court Grants Summary Judgment Holding Owner and Contractor Liable

Based on the law and the facts of the accident, we moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability. Summary judgment is a “drastic remedy” that means no triable issue of fact exists. If the facts supporting summary judgment are proven, the court directs judgment as a matter of law without sending the issue to the jury, which is normally the body responsible for deciding issues of fact. Our job at the hearing required us to present sufficient evidence to warrant summary judgment and prevail over any evidence submitted by the lawyers on the other side of the case.

Following a hearing (oral argument) during which we presented our case, the judge granted summary judgment in our favor on the issue of liability. Essentially, the court ruled that Mr. Beteta-Paz would not have died if he had been provided with the necessary protection from the gravity-related risk of the work he was doing.

With the issue of liability settled by summary judgment, the only issue left was to determine the amount of damages. We were able to settle that issue without further trial, winning $1.75 million for our clients.

While we are saddened by the loss occasioned by this needless tragedy, we are pleased to have played a role in securing justice for Mr. Beteta-Paz and compensation for the family he left behind. If you are in need of compassionate, dedicated and zealous advocacy in a personal injury or wrongful death matter in New York or the Hudson Valley, contact Dupée & Monroe in Goshen for a free consultation by calling 845-294-8900.

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