Court Dismisses Claims Against Co-General Contractor Which Lacked Control Over Accident Location and Grants Contractual Indemnification Claim Against the Plaintiff’s Employer

In a decision dated February 6, 2020, the Hon. Barbara Jaffe granted our client, The Pike Company, Inc., summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s causes of action for common law negligence and pursuant to Labor Law §§200 and 240(1) and as well as contractual indemnification against the plaintiff’s employer, United Iron. Judge Jaffe also granted the other defendants’ summary judgment motions and dismissed the complaint, including the plaintiff’s Labor Law §241(6) claim. The plaintiff steelworker was injured during the construction of two buildings on the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals complex in Mount Pleasant, New York. There were two general contractors on this project – Moriarty Contracting for the exterior work and Pike for the interior work. United Iron was a subcontractor to both Moriarty and Pike. The accident occurred at the beginning of the work day as the plaintiff was walking to United Iron’s trailer, which was located on a trailer park under Moriarty’s jurisdiction; the plaintiff intended to perform work for Pike that day. The plaintiff followed his foreman as they walked from the paved parking area and roadway down a “moderately”-sloped dirt path toward the trailer. The dirt path was worn down from use and the plaintiff testified that he was not aware of the other entrance to the trailer. Moriarty’s witness testified that there was an alternate entrance to the trailer which was on level ground, but there were times when this path was covered in water and mud, which the witness conceded was an unsafe condition. The plaintiff had slipped on this dirt path a few times before his accident, but he never complained to Pike about it. The trailer was located off of a main roadway on the project which Pike personnel used to get to their trailer park. During oral argument of the motion, the plaintiff withdrew his Labor Law §240(1) claim. With respect to the plaintiff’s Labor Law §200 and common-law negligence claims, the Court held that Pike established that it did not create or have actual or constructive notice of the conditions around the trailer and Pike did not have any control over this area. United Iron opposed Pike’s motion for contractual indemnity on the grounds that there were questions of fact as to Pike’s negligence. Inasmuch as Pike was not negligent, the Court granted Pike judgment on its contractual indemnity claim as against United Iron.

Joseph Ryan v. BMR-Landmark at Eastview LLC, et al., Index No. 150878/2015 (N.Y. Co. Sup. Ct., Feb. 6, 2020)

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This post was written by Sander Rothchild