An Owner’s Lack Of Supervisory Control Is Not A Defense In A NY Labor Law § 200 Claim

In Raffa v. The City of New York, the plaintiff was injured when he slipped and fell on a sheet of ice at a construction site, while walking from his car to a construction trailer. The plaintiff testified that two days prior to the accident, he complained to the foreman and superintendent about snow and ice covering the area where he fell.  Additionally, the day prior to the plaintiff’s accident, the project manager was notified that another worker slipped and fell on ice in that area.

The plaintiff sued the owner of the property, the City of New York, and the general contractor, U.R.S. Corp. under Labor Law § 200 and common law negligence in the Supreme Court, Bronx County. The City of New York moved for summary judgment on the grounds that as an owner, it had no supervisory control of the plaintiff or control over the means, methods or materials used in the work. The court agreed and granted the City of New York’s motion.

On appeal the Appellate Division, First Department reversed the lower court’s decision. The First Department held that because the plaintiff’s Labor Law § 200 and common law negligence claims are based on a dangerous condition on the site, not on the means, methods or materials used in the work, the only issue was whether the City of New York had notice of the condition, not whether it excercised supervisory control over the manner of performance of plaintiff’s work. Thus, there was a question of fact as to whether the City of New York had actual or constructive notice of the icy condition that caused the plaintiff’s accident.

Thanks to Ed Lomena for his contribution.

For more information,  contact Denise Fontana Ricci at dricci@wcmlaw.com.