Defendant American Real Estate Holdings, LP (American), an out-of-possession owner, leased the building where plaintiff’s accident occurred to defendant Levitz Furniture Corporation of Queens (Levitz). The building consisted of a furniture showroom, an office and warehouse space. Prior to plaintiff’s accident, Levitz had sold large furniture shelving rack unit, as well as other similar units, to defendant and third-party plaintiff International Storage Systems, Inc. (International). International was in the business of buying, dismantling, selling and then reinstalling large furniture rack systems. Pursuant to an oral agreement, which is reflected in various invoices and purchase orders, International then hired plaintiff’s employer, third-party and second-third party defendant Heatley Installations (Heatley), to disassemble the furniture rack system and transport it to another location.
A Lawyer said that, plaintiff testified that, just prior to his accident he was in the process of disassembling the free-standing furniture rack system while standing on a particle-board deck located on the third level of the rack. As plaintiff was removing beams from the level above, and dropping them onto the deck, the deck broke, causing him to fall and sustain brain injuries.
At the time of his accident, the Staten Island plaintiff was not utilizing an available order selector provided for use in retrieving furniture at higher levels. An order selector is a piece of equipment resembling a forklift, which has a platform upon which a worker can stand. In addition, although he was wearing the safety belt provided to him by his employer, plaintiff had not properly tethered to the order selector, despite having been directed to do so less than one hour before his accident.