Labor Law Claims Dismissed Against Homeowners (NY)

Property owners are invariably drawn into lawsuits involving Law Labor accidents. Fortunately, owners of one and two family homes are exempted from the strict liability of §240(1) and §241(6) when they do not direct or control the work being performed. These homeowners can also be exempt from common law negligence and Labor Law §200 claims when they have no obligation for safety at the work site.

In Chapman v. Town Of Copake, plaintiff (a subcontractor) sued the homeowners when he was injured when a retaing wall collapsed while he was digging holes to install concrete footers at the worksite.

The New York Appellate Division found that, although the homeowners were involved in the basic planning and coordination of the renovation project, their participation was not so significant as to support a finding that they served as their own general contractor. The homeowners pointed to the fact that they hired a contractor to direct plaintiff’s work. And even though the homeowners paid the subcontractor directly, the GC hired the subcontractors and coordinated their work at the site.

Plaintiff also cited to the facts that the homeowners completed the building permit application and provided sketches of the work that they wanted done. But the Court held their participation did not “cross the line from being a legitimately concerned homeowner to a de facto supervisor.” Thus, all claims against them were dismissed.

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http://decisions.courts.state.ny.us/ad3/decisions/2009/506856.pdf