Owner Liability Under Labor Law § 200 Extended to Adjacent Building Construction
In Korostynskyy v. 416 Kings Highway, LLC, (Decided on 02/10/16) the Appellate Division Second Department has seemingly expanded the requirements of owners of buildings under Labor Law §200 to include ensuring the safety of workers on their property from the hazards created during adjacent building construction. Liability under Labor Law §200 codifies the overall common law duty of an owner and general contractor to provide a safe working environment at a construction site. This section requires that for a party to be found liable it must have supervision or control of the injury producing work or that the defendants created or had actual or constructive notice of the alleged unsafe condition that caused the accident.
In Korostynskyy, the plaintiff, while renovating an office in a building owned by the defendant Leonid Goldin (defendant), was allegedly injured when a worker and construction materials fell on to him through a skylight located on the defendant’s roof. Both the worker and material came from scaffolding located at a neighboring construction site. Defendant cross-moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and the claims made under Labor Law §200, which was originally granted by the Lower Court.
Plaintiff appealed the decision. The Appellate Court reversed the Lower Court decision finding that the defendants failed to establish that they did not have actual or constructive notice of the allegedly dangerous condition, and that as plaintiff’s employer and the owner of the construction site wherein plaintiff was working, they owed the plaintiff a duty to maintain a safe working environment. Specifically, even though the accident occurred due to apparent negligence conditions created at the adjacent construction site, the Court found that the defendants still needed to demonstrate they did not have actual or constructive notice of those dangerous conditions created by the co-defendants scaffolding over their skylight, which they failed to do. The Court additionally found that there were unresolved questions concerning the scaffolding location in relation to the defendant’s building and whether the defendants had personally observed construction materials being stacked and left unsecured above the skylight on the scaffold, which created questions of fact.