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Church is a 1-2 Family Dwelling Under the Labor Law's Homeowner Exception (NY)

September 14, 2018

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">Bautista v Archdiocese of NY</a>, </em>Plaintiff was injured when he fell from a scaffold while repairing a detached garage associated with a church rectory used for both residential and church purposes. Against the Church, plaintiff asserted common-law negligence and claims under the scaffold law and statute requiring owners and contractors to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety for construction workers, and the workplace safety statute applicable to owners and contractors.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Plaintiff initially moved for partial summary judgment on the Labor Law § 240(1), and the Archdiocese cross-moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Both motions were denied. The Archdiocese appealed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On appeal, the Appellate Division First Department  reversed, granting the Archdiocese’ motion for summary judgment on Labor Law §§ 240(1) and 241(6) under the 1-2 Family Dwelling exception for “owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for, but do not direct or control the work”. The Court held that the certificate of occupancy indicated that the record constituted a dwelling and a private garage, and that Plaintiff’s assertions that the garage was exclusively restricted to use by teachers at an elementary school owned by the church were unsupported by the record, thereby failing to raise issues of fact as to the applicability of the homeowner’s exemption.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Moreover, the Archdiocese established that it did not have the authority to supervise or control the job and thus was not liable as an agent of the owner under Labor Law § 240(1) and Labor Law § 241(6). As such, the Court held that the Labor Law § 200 and common-law negligence claims should be dismissed because plaintiff's fall from scaffolding involved the means and methods of his work, which were supervised and controlled solely by his employer.</p>
Thanks to Margaret Adamczak for her contribution to this post.


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