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Comes v. New York State Electric and Gas Corporation

Court of Appeals of the State of New York
Dec 20, 1993
82 N.Y.2d 876 (N.Y. 1993)

Summary

holding no liability under common law or Labor Law § 200 in absence of evidence of supervision or control

Summary of this case from Fernandez v. CMB Contracting

Opinion

Argued November 17, 1993

Decided December 20, 1993

Appeal from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Third Judicial Department, Patrick D. Monserrate, J.

Paul William Beltz, P.C., Buffalo (Russell T. Quinlan of counsel), and Cyril A. Krenzer, P.C., Honeoye Falls, for appellants.

Levene, Gouldin Thompson, Vestal (John L. Perticone of counsel), for respondent.


MEMORANDUM.

The order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed, with costs.

Plaintiff Lynn Comes was employed by the general contractor hired by defendant to construct a building on defendant's land. He sustained personal injuries after his employer directed him to lift and carry a 14-foot steel I-beam unassisted. Comes and his wife, suing derivatively, commenced this action against defendant alleging violations of Labor Law §§ 200 and 241 (6).

Section 200 of the Labor Law is a codification of the common-law duty imposed upon an owner or general contractor to provide construction site workers with a safe place to work. An implicit precondition to this duty "is that the party charged with that responsibility have the authority to control the activity bringing about the injury" (Russin v Picciano Son, 54 N.Y.2d 311, 317). Where the alleged defect or dangerous condition arises from the contractor's methods and the owner exercises no supervisory control over the operation, no liability attaches to the owner under the common law or under Labor Law § 200 (Lombardi v Stout, 80 N.Y.2d 290, 295).

Comes' injury was caused by lifting the beam (plaintiffs allege no other dangerous condition on the premises), and there is no evidence that defendant exercised supervisory control or had any input into how the steel beam was to be moved. Defendant did hire a construction inspector to visit the work site; however, the inspector's duties were limited to observing the work and reporting to the contractor safety violations by the employees.

Alternatively, plaintiffs contend defendant is liable under section 200 even if it did not exercise control over the operation because it had actual or constructive notice of the unsafe manner in which the work was performed. They rely on Nagel v Metzger ( 103 A.D.2d 1, 9). We note that proper equipment was present on the site here and thus defendant's inspector had no reason to believe that Comes' employer would require him to carry the steel beam unassisted. But more to the point, this Court has not adopted the reasoning of Nagel and imposed liability under the statute solely because the owner had notice of the allegedly unsafe manner in which the work was performed. Accordingly, the Appellate Division correctly dismissed plaintiffs' Labor Law § 200 claim.

In contrast to section 200, section 241 (6) of the Labor Law imposes a nondelegable duty upon owners and contractors to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to construction workers (Russin, supra). Plaintiffs' section 241 (6) cause of action was properly dismissed, however, because plaintiffs allege only violations of general safety standards of the Industrial Code, not concrete specifications imposing a duty on defendant ( see, Ross v Curtis-Palmer Hydro-Elec. Co., 81 N.Y.2d 494, 503-505).

Chief Judge KAYE and Judges SIMONS, TITONE, HANCOCK, JR., BELLACOSA, SMITH and LEVINE concur.

Order affirmed, with costs, in a memorandum.


Summaries of

Comes v. New York State Electric and Gas Corporation

Court of Appeals of the State of New York
Dec 20, 1993
82 N.Y.2d 876 (N.Y. 1993)

holding no liability under common law or Labor Law § 200 in absence of evidence of supervision or control

Summary of this case from Fernandez v. CMB Contracting

upholding dismissal of § 200 claim despite the presence of defendant's inspector at job site, because "there [wa]s no evidence that defendant exercised supervisory control or had any input into how the steel beam [that caused plaintiff's injury] was moved"

Summary of this case from Wojcik v. 42nd Street Development Project, Inc.

overruling Nagel

Summary of this case from Lamela v. City of New York

In Comes, the plaintiff was a general contractor's employee who was injured when lifting a beam at the direction of the general contractor.

Summary of this case from Dos Santos v. Terrace Place Realty, Inc.

In Comes, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the Appellate Division's reversal of a denial of summary judgment to a defendant landowner sued under § 200 by an employee of the landowner's general contractor.

Summary of this case from Boyette v. Algonquin Gas Transmission Co.

In Comes, the plaintiff's injury resulted from means and methods when he lifted a steel beam unassisted at the direction of his employer/subcontractor.

Summary of this case from Lopez v. Dagan

In Comes, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division correctly dismissed the plaintiff's claim because there was no evidence that defendant exercised supervisory control or had any input.

Summary of this case from Cornell v. Feinstein

In Comes and Ross, the Court expressly noted that the Labor Law claim implicated the “means and methods” utilized by the plaintiff's employer.

Summary of this case from Nolan v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc.

In Comes v. New York State Elec. and Gas Corp., 82 N.Y.2d 876, 878 (1993), the court specifically rejected the argument that notice to the owner of the allegedly unsafe manner in which the work was performed created, in itself, liability under Labor Law § 200. Because the statute codifies the common-law duty to provide a safe place to work (id. at 877), it follows that such notice does not create liability under the theory of common-law negligence.

Summary of this case from Vergara v. SS 133 West 21
Case details for

Comes v. New York State Electric and Gas Corporation

Case Details

Full title:LYNN L. COMES et al., Appellants, v. NEW YORK STATE ELECTRIC AND GAS…

Court:Court of Appeals of the State of New York

Date published: Dec 20, 1993

Citations

82 N.Y.2d 876 (N.Y. 1993)
609 N.Y.S.2d 168
631 N.E.2d 110

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