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Control of Site May Confer NY Labor Law Liability

September 11, 2009

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In Pasljevic v. 998 Fifth Avenue Corp., plaintiff was a painter who fell from a ladder at a renovation site while in the course of his employment. Plaintiff sued LICO Construction Company, a contractor the property owner had retained via written contract to provide full-time site supervision. Plaintiff’s claims were based upon purported violations of Labor Law §200, §240(1), and §241(6). The work encompassed in LICO’s contract excluded painting. However, the contract stated that LICO was required to prevent injury to “employees on the Work and other persons who may be affected thereby.” During the course of his deposition, LICO’s foreman testified that LICO coordinated the various trades at the project. The plaintiff testified at his deposition that LICO had actually directed him to work in the area in which he fell.
LICO filed a motion for summary judgment in which it asserted that the exclusion of painting in its contract precluded it from having authority or supervision over plaintiff’s work. The trial court granted the motion. The Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the trial court’s decision and denied LICO’s motion. The First Department held that there were triable issues of fact as to LICO’s statutory liability due to the absence of a general contractor, LICO’s contractual assumption of responsibility for site safety, and its coordination of the trades at the project.
Thanks to Brad Thelander for his contribution to this post.
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