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ANSI Violation Constitutes Evidence of Negligence, According to NY's Highest Court (NY)

November 8, 2018

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">Bradley v HWA 1290 III LLC</a>, </em>plaintiff commenced an action against the building owners and elevator consultant, seeking to recover damages for wrongful death of an elevator mechanic who was electrocuted as a result of coming into contact with a transformer while servicing a malfunction in one of the building’s elevators.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Defendants moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, but said motion was denied by Hon. Lucy Billings, allowing plaintiffs to pursue their common law negligence and Labor Law § 200 claims based on the alleged inadequate lighting in the motor room and the alleged lack of a cover over the transformers. The lower court reasoned that defendants failed to demonstrate that the uncovered transformers and the lighting did not create dangerous conditions readily observable to defendants. The Appellate Court reversed the lower court’s decision, holding that: plaintiffs failed to establish liability based on inadequate lighting in the motor room; the building owner and consultant did not cause or create the hazardous condition; plaintiffs failed to establish that owner or consultant has actual or constructive notice of the hazardous condition; and, any failed to comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements did not constitute negligence.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Court of Appeals disagreed with the First Department’s ruling that ANSI standards cannot be used as evidence of negligence because they are not a statute, ordinance, or regulation with force of law, and held that “to the extent that a violation of ANSI constitutes evidence of negligence, plaintiffs’ reliance on those standards was proper.” Nevertheless, plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether defendants had either actual or constructive notice of the alleged dangerous condition, and the Court of Appeals upheld the reversal that granted summary judgment to the defendant.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This is a direct rejection of the rule that standards can only be used to show evidence of negligence if they have force of law required by statute, regulation, or ordinance, which has been a trend in the First and Second Departments.</p>
Thanks to Margaret Adamczak for her contribution to this post.


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