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Right to Stop Work for Emergencies Insufficient Control under Labor Law (NY)

September 15, 2017

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<p style="text-align: justify;">Under the infamous New York Labor law governing construction cases, a construction manager of a work site is generally not liable unless it functions as an agent of the property owner or general contractor in circumstances where it has the ability to control the activity that brought about the injury.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">That issues was at the forefront of <em><a href="http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/appellate-division-second-department/2017/2015-12660.html">Lamar v. Hill International, Inc.</a>  </em>Plaintiff was working on the 7 train subway extension project on the West side of Manhattan when he allegedly fell from the top of a 10 foot hight stack of blasting mats. Both sides moved for summary judgment, and the construction manager defendant prevailed on the grounds that plaintiff did not adequately show that the construction manager had the authority to exercise supervision and control over the work that brought about the injury so as to enable them to avoid or correct an unsafe condition.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Specifically, as discussed in the appeal, the construction management services contract provided that these defendants were responsible for acting as liason with contractors to ensure that the project was completed in accordance with cost, time, safety, and quality control requirements and reporting to the MTA. The contract did not, however, confer upon these defendants the authority to control the methods used by the contractors, including the plaintiff’s employer, to complete their work. The construction manager defendants were authorized only to review and monitor safety programs and requirements and make recommendations, to provide direction to contractors regarding corrective action to be taken if an unsafe condition was detected, and to stop work only in the event of an emergency.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The deposition testimony confirmed that the construction managers did not have control or a supervisory role over the plaintiff’s day-to-day work and that they did not assume responsibility for the manner in which that work was conducted. As such, the Appellate Division agreed that the trial court properly awarded the defendants summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s complaint.</p>
Thanks to Sara Matschke for her contribution to this post and please write to <a href="mailto: mbono@wcmlaw.com">Mike Bono</a> for more information.

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