The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined there was a question of fact whether a contractor, Home Crafts, launched an instrument of harm such that the contractor was liable to a subcontractor, Catalano, who fell from a ladder when attempting to fix the problem. Home Craft had ordered that sheet metal be placed over a chimney during the installation of gas fireplace inserts. The sheet metal caused smoke to back up when the fireplace was tested. Catalano fell when taking the sheet metal off the chimney:
… “[A] contractor may be said to have assumed a duty of care and, thus, be potentially liable in tort, to third persons when the contracting party, in failing to exercise reasonable care in the performance of its duties, launches a force or instrument of harm” … .
Here, Home Crafts failed to establish, prima facie, that it did not launch a force or instrument of harm by directing Catalano to seal the chimney, without alerting the other contractors that the fireplace at issue was rendered inoperable due to the inability to ventilate smoke … . Santibanez v North Shore Land Alliance, Inc., 2021 NY Slip Op 04921, Second Dept 9-1-21