No Liability to Third Party Stemming from Contract to Install a Sign
The Second Department determined the plaintiff’s verdict in a slip and fall case was properly set aside. Plaintiff tripped on a sign that had fallen and was covered by snow. The evidence did not demonstrate the sign company (Everlast) “launched an instrument of harm” so as to trigger tort liability in favor of a third party arising from a contract. The analytical criteria were explained:
” [A] contractual obligation, standing alone, will generally not give rise to tort liability in favor of a third party'” … . The Court of Appeals has recognized three exceptions to this rule …, only one of which is pertinent to this case. Under that exception, a party who enters into a contract to render services may be liable in tort to a third party “where the contracting party, in failing to exercise reasonable care in the performance of his duties, launche[s] a force or instrument of harm'” … .
Here, there was no rational process by which the jury could have found that Everlast launched a force or instrument of harm … . In that respect, there was no direct evidence that Everlast was negligent in installing the sign seven months before the accident. Further, there was no rational process by which the jury could have found in favor of the plaintiff based upon circumstantial evidence, since the plaintiff failed, as a matter of law, to demonstrate that it was “more likely or more reasonable that the alleged injury was caused by the defendant’s negligence than by some other agency” … . Robinson v Limoncelli, 2015 NY Slip Op 02745, 2nd Dept 4-1-15