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Court of Appeals Expands Scope of Labor Law § 240(1)

April 28, 2008

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In <em></em><em></em><em>Sanatass v. Consolidated Investing Company</em>,<em></em> the Court of Appeals recently held that the defendant, an out-of-possession landlord, was still statutorily liable for the plaintiff's injuries despite its lack of notice or control over the work that the plaintiff was engaged in at the time of the accident. The Court rejected the defendant's argument that the tenant's breach of the lease provision that obligated the tenant to obtain the owner's permission before hiring a contractor to perform any alterations severed any nexus between the owner and the plaintiff. Of note, the sole dissenter stated that the Court's "decision unwisely and unnecessarily increases the already heavy burden that Labor Law § 240(1) places on New York property owners." The dissenting Justice further noted that the Court has never addressed the situation of a landlord that did not try to delegate responsibility for worker safety to its tenant, but retained in the lease the power to provide protection for workers by requiring prior written consent before any work is done, only to have the tenant ignore the lease provision and urged the majority not to "expand our already draconian rules of Labor Law § 240 (1) liability."

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