Contract Terms Trump Specifications In Labor Law Personal Injury Action

In Fraser v. Pace Plumbing Corp., the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny Pace Plumbing Corp.’s summary judgment motion.  Fraser was injured when the scaffold on which he was standing slipped into an open, uncovered hole in the concrete floor causing him to tip over.  The contract between Pace and the construction manager required that Pace “cut, fit, patch and protect its work.”  Pace argued that the specifications portion of the contract provided that the openings left in the floor would be patched up “by others.”  This argument failed because the agreement provided that in the event of a conflict, the agreement would take priority over the specifications.  Further, the court held that in light of Pace’s obligations set forth by the contract, there still remained triable issues of fact as to whether Pace was a “statutory agent” of the construction manager, and as such may be liable under Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6).  To be treated as a statutory agent, the subcontractor must have been “delegated the supervision and control either over the specific work area involved or the work which gave rise to the injury.” 

Thanks to Sandy Debbas for her contribution to this post.