The Second Department determined the company (Mainco) under contract with the Bronx Center (a nursing home) to maintain an elevator could be liable to plaintiff, who was injured when the elevator fell. The court explained the analytical criteria for liability in tort to third parties stemming from a contract:
Mainco failed to demonstrate its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against it on the ground that it did not have a duty to the plaintiff. ” An elevator company which agrees to maintain an elevator in safe operating condition may be liable to a passenger for failure to correct conditions of which it has knowledge or failure to use reasonable care to discover and correct a condition which it ought to have found'” … . Further, “a party who enters into a contract to render services may be said to have assumed a duty of care—and thus be potentially liable in tort—to third persons . . . where the contracting party has entirely displaced the other party’s duty” of safe maintenance … .
Here, the maintenance agreement between Mainco and Bronx Center required Mainco to periodically “inspect” the elevator and to “perform the New York City Local Law #10 mandated annual inspection.” The evidence demonstrated that, if there were any problems with the elevator, Bronx Center called Mainco, and Mainco inspected the elevator to determine and report on the cause of the problem. The evidence further indicated that if the cause of the problem was not a repair covered by the maintenance contract, Mainco issued a repair proposal, and would perform the repair upon acceptance of its proposal. Under these circumstances, Mainco failed to demonstrate as a matter of law that it did not assume a duty to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff’s claims did not fall within the scope of that duty. Fajardo v Mainco El. & Elec. Corp., 2016 NY Slip Op 06678, 2nd Dept 10-12-16
NEGLIGENCE (ELEVATOR MAINTENANCE COMPANY UNDER CONTRACT WITH NURSING HOME MAY BE LIABLE IN TORT TO THIRD PARTY INJURED BY ELEVATOR MALFUNCTION)/CONTRACT LAW (TORT LIABILITY STEMMING FROM CONTRACT, ELEVATOR MAINTENANCE COMPANY UNDER CONTRACT WITH NURSING HOME MAY BE LIABLE IN TORT TO THIRD PARTY INJURED BY ELEVATOR MALFUNCTION)/TORT LIABILITY STEMMING FROM CONTRACT ELEVATOR MAINTENANCE COMPANY UNDER CONTRACT WITH NURSING HOME MAY BE LIABLE IN TORT TO THIRD PARTY INJURED BY ELEVATOR MALFUNCTION)