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New York City Labor Law And Civil Litigation Blog

Three construction workers injured after roof collapses in Queens

Last week, three construction workers were seriously injured when a load of construction materials dropped several floors at an Astoria construction site.

Contrary to initial reports of a crane collapse, fire officials said this particular construction accident was the result of roof cave-in. In fact, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro stated that a 1,200-pound load of laminated beams had been placed on the building's roof just moments before the tragic accident, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

Contractors cited after construction crane boom hits power lines

A general contractor and two subcontractors have been cited for six serious and willful workplace safety violations after two construction workers were injured last year. A crane boom came into contact with high-voltage power lines, and approximately 14 kilovolts of electricity shot down the crane's hoist line to the men working below.

Tragically, the companies apparently failed to take some of the basic safety measures required to keep workers safe around power lines. This was despite a 2012 alert issued by the state's Labor & Industries department.

Man freed from prison after his doppelganger is found

After serving 17 years in prison for a 1999 robbery he adamantly denied committing, a Kansas City man is now free. What is particularly surprising about this case, however, is the reason for his freedom: he alleges his doppelganger may have actually committed the crime.

According to a recent report by the Kansas City Star, the man had actually heard about this doppelganger -- coincidently, another prisoner -- from several individuals, but it wasn't until his attorneys dug deeper into the case that they realized just how much the two men looked alike. Not only that, but they shared the same first name and the other man had lived near where the robbery occurred, while the man who was wrongfully convicted of the crime actually lived across the state line.

Former model's murder-for-hire conviction overturned

A former model who was convicted last year of trying to hire a hit man has been overturned. The woman was sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly trying to have her husband's ex-wife murdered in what seems to have been a custody dispute. The hit man she tried to hire was actually an informant, and she paid him $175.

An appellate court in Ohio has just overturned her conviction because it was based on a flawed indictment. Under the law of that state, in order for someone to be properly charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, the indictment has to include a specific, "overt act" taken as a step toward that murder. In her case, the prosecutors failed to include that element of the crime.

BLS: 121 people died in workplace fires and explosions in a single year

Even though most people feel relatively safe while at work, the truth is that countless workplace accidents occur every day -- some of which caused by extreme events such as fires and explosions.

In fact, according to the most recent data made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 121 workers suffered fatal work injuries due to workplace fires and explosions in 2015 alone. Even worse, from 2011 through 2015, there have been 161 incidents of workplace fires or explosions in which multiple fatalities were recorded, with 62 such events in just 2013.

Legislation seeks to help those wrongfully convicted because of false confessions

Earlier this week, we told you about how, under certain circumstances, victims of wrongful convictions may not be able to seek damages for their wrongful incarceration if they falsely confessed to the crime or pled guilty in order to avoid a harsher sentence.

The problem with this, of course, is that some individuals may feel pressured to confess or plead guilty to a crime they did not commit, even in situations in which the court doesn't think they have been technically "coerced." The truth is, none of us knows how we would react to an intense police interrogation until it actually happens, especially if you are facing a significantly harsher penalty should you decide the fight the charges and lose.

What would you do if a robot injured you on the construction site?

Robots are gaining traction in every industry. The fastest-growing sector of robotics is called "cobots," or collaborative robots, and they're being introduced even faster. Robots have been around since the 1960s, but cobots can do much more than mere robots. They've even tried using them as security guards.

That did not work out. As described in Risk & Insurance magazine, a shopping center tried out the collaborative robots to bolster their security personnel. Almost as soon as the 300-lb., egg-shaped cobot was switched on, things went south. Even with all its motion sensors, alarms and live video, it didn't understand what was happening when a toddler tried to play with it. The cobot knocked the child to the sidewalk and ran over his feet.

Should victims of wrongful convictions be denied damages simply because of a false confession?

In New York, victims of wrongful convictions may be able to seek damages from the state if they serve time in prison for a crime they did not commit. However, it is important to remember that there are several limitations that apply.

For instance, not only must victims be able to show they did not commit the crime, but they must also be able to prove other factors, including that they, by their own conduct, did not "cause or bring about" their conviction.

Court finds man's sex abuse charges entirely based on fabrication

The Ninth Circuit court of appeals has reinstated a $9-million jury award in the case of a man who was falsely accused of molesting his children. The case against him appears to have been entirely fabricated by a Sheriff's deputy. She repeatedly contradicted the alleged victims' actual statements in her reports and even made up quotes and attributed it to them. It was a frame-up.

When a federal jury awarded the man $9 million for the nearly 20 years he spent in prison, the trial court simply struck it down. He asserted that the defendants, the Sheriff's deputy and her boss, were entitled to win the case as a matter of law because the man hadn't proved they actually knew, or that they should have known he was innocent.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit emphatically disagreed with the district court's conclusion.

Majority of construction deaths in 2015 involved workers from Central and South America

As recently reported by Crain's New York Business, immigrant workers accounted for most of New York City's construction-related deaths in 2015.

Citing data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this report found that 18 of the 25 workers who died while working construction in 2015 were foreign-born, and most of those were from Latin America. In fact, 13 of these construction workers were originally from Central and South America, including five from Mexico -- meaning they accounted for more than half of all construction deaths that year.

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