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New York Courts Redefine Meaning Of Specific Standards In Labor Law Claims

August 19, 2022

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<p style="text-align: justify;">Labor Law 241(6) imposes a non-delegable duty on owners and contractors to “provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety for workers and to comply with the specific safety rules and regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of the Department of the Department of Labor.” The first part of the statute reiterates the common law-standards of care. The second part of the statute creates a nondelegable duty with respect to certain regulations. The question the courts have grappled with is whether this sets forth a “specific standard of conduct” or a general safety standard.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In <a href=""><em>Toussain</em>t</a><em> v. Port Authority of N.Y. &amp; N.J</em>., plaintiff was injured when he was struck by a power buggy. The operating engineer of the power buggy was not assigned by his employer to operate the device. Plaintiff alleged a violation of NYCRR23-9.9(a) which states that “no person other than trained and competent operator designated by the employer shall operate a power buggy.” Since the term “designated person” was specifically defined in NYCRR23-9.9(a) it was deemed a proper predicate for a Labor Law 241(6) claim.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Court previously refined the standard of liability under Section 241(6) by requiring that the rule or regulation alleged to have been breached be a specific, positive command, in <em>Ross v. Curtis-Palmer Hydro-Elec. Co</em>. However, in <em>Toussaint</em> the Court has reframed the standard and held that the term “designated” does not transform NYCRR23-9.9(a) into a specific standard. This will have a specific impact on New York Labor Law practice as the term “designated” has now been reframed to not be considered a specific standard.</p>
Thanks to Jennifer Tuz for her contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="">Heather Aquin</a>o with any questions.


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