Sweet v. Packaging Corp. of America – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Sweet v. Packaging Corp. of America (297 AD2d 421, 746 N.Y.S.2d 104 [3d Dept 2002]), the plaintiff and a co-worker were performing removal of asbestos roofing material, lifting a section of roofing together.

The co-worker slipped and fell on wet roofing debris, causing the full weight of the section to shift onto the plaintiff's shovel, which in turn caused the plaintiff to fall and injure his back.

At his pretrial deposition, the plaintiff testified that the roof that he was working on was wet and slippery because it had rained the night before the accident.

The plaintiff further testified that this slippery condition was caused by the asbestos fibers on the roof becoming wet from the previous evening's rain.

The Appellate Division, Third Department rejected the defendants' argument that 12 NYCRR 23-1.7 (d) did not apply to the roof fibers upon which the plaintiff's co-worker slipped.

It reasoned, "While there can be no doubt that the fibers constituted an integral part of the worksite, the precipitation causing them to become slippery did not, and defendants' alleged failure to remedy the slippery condition is actionable." (Sweet, 297 AD2d at 422).