Arto v. Cairo Construction, Inc., et al.

This claim arises out of a fall from a roof by the plaintiff Richard Arto (age 53) on June 27, 2007 due to a defective scaffold while working on the roof of a single family dwelling located in Bohemia, New York on Long Island. When he fell, the plaintiff landed on shrubbery and sustained herniated cervical and lumbar discs, derangement of his right shoulder, and a perforated colon which required a colostomy. The plaintiff sued Cairo Construction and the homeowner Mathias Arnold alleging violations of Labor Law §§2401(1), 241(6), and 200. The plaintiff’s employer was not a party in the action due to the Workers’ Compensation bar. At the close of discovery, the homeowner Arnold was dismissed based upon the single family homeowners exception to the Labor Law, so the only defendant at trial was Cairo Construction.

The plaintiff claimed that Cairo Construction was the general contractor on the job and was therefore statutorily liable for the defective scaffold which had been supplied by the plaintiff’s employer. Joseph Cairo, the owner of Cairo Construction, testified at trial that he was not the general contractor and had only been retained to perform work on the windows and siding of the Arnold home. While Mr. Arnold had asked Cairo Construction to also perform the roofing work, Mr. Cairo declined and suggested that Mr. Arnold contact the plaintiff’s employer, which Mr. Arnold did. Mr. Cairo also testified that Mr. Arnold acted as his own general contractor for the renovation work on his home since Mr. Arnold also performed extensive renovation work unrelated to Cairo Construction and had hired other contractors to do that work. Mr. Arnold, who testified as a non-party at the time of trial, insisted that it was Cairo Construction that retained the plaintiff’s employer pursuant to an oral agreement, despite the fact that Mr. Arnold paid the plaintiff’s employer himself. Mr. Arnold further claimed that Mr. Cairo specifically told Mr. Arnold that he would act as the general contractor on the job.

Throughout the trial, the plaintiff demanded $1,000,000 in settlement. Utica First Insurance Company, on behalf of Cairo Construction, offered $350,000 which was rejected by the plaintiff.


Defendant’s verdict (6-0) on February 28, 2012. Plaintiff’s motion to set aside the verdict as against the weight of the evidence was denied.

Case Notes

Supreme Court of the State of New York – County of Suffolk
Index No.: 29108/2007
Handling Partner: Marisa Goetz
Client: Utica First Insurance Company
Opposing Counsel: Daniel J. Hansen, Esq., New York, NY
Assigned Judge: Jerry Garguilo
Defendant’s verdict – February 28, 2012