https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2023-11-29 12:09:372023-12-03 11:10:53ONLY CONTRACTORS AND OWNERS AND THEIR AGENTS CAN BE LIABLE UNDER LABOR LAW 240(1) AND 241(6); HERE DEFENDANT DEMONSTRATED IT WAS NOT AN AGENT FOR ANY POTENTIALLY LIABLE PARTY BECAUSE IT EXERCISED NO SUPERVISORY CONTROL OVER THE WORKSITE (SECOND DEPT).
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2023-11-17 13:18:412023-11-18 13:57:32PLAINTIFF’S HUSBAND, THE INSURED, WAS DRIVING WHEN PLAINTIFF WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED IN A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT; PLAINTIFF MAY BE ABLE TO SHOW HER HUSBAND HAD REQUESTED COVERAGE ON HER BEHALF AND, BECAUSE THE INSURER (ALLEGEDLY) NEGLIGENTLY FAILED TO PROVIDE THE COVERAGE, THE INSURER IS OBLIGATED TO COVER HER LOSS, DESPITE HER STATUS AS A NONCLIENT (FOURTH DEPT).
The Fourth Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined that the injured plaintiff might be able to show her husband (the insured) requested supplemental spousal liability (SSL) coverage on her behalf and that she was harmed by the insurer’s failure to provide it, despite her status as a nonclient. Plaintiff’s husband was driving and plaintiff was a passenger when she was seriously injured in a traffic accident:
“An insurance agent ordinarily does not owe a duty of care to a nonclient; however, where an agent’s negligence results in an insured being without coverage, the agent may be liable for damages sustained by an injured third party if the third party was the intended beneficiary of the insurance contract and ‘the bond between [the agent and the third party is] so close as to be the functional equivalent of contractual privity’ . . . The functional equivalent of privity may be found . . . where the defendants are aware that their representations are ‘to be used for a particular purpose,’ there was ‘reliance by a known party or parties in furtherance of that purpose’ and there is ‘some conduct by the defendants linking them to the party or parties and evincing [the] defendant[s’] understanding of their reliance’ ” … .
“[A] third party may sue as a beneficiary on a contract made for [its] benefit. However, an intent to benefit the third party must be shown, and, absent such intent, the third party is merely an incidental beneficiary with no right to enforce the particular contracts” … . Thus, “[p]arties asserting third-party beneficiary rights under a contract must establish (1) the existence of a valid and binding contract between other parties, (2) that the contract was intended for [their] benefit and (3) that the benefit to [them] is sufficiently immediate, rather than incidental, to indicate the assumption by the contracting parties of a duty to compensate [them] if the benefit is lost” … . Smith v NGM Ins. Co., 2023 NY Slip Op 05815, Fourth Dept 11-17-23
Practice Point: An insurer may be liable for negligently failing to provide requested coverage for a nonclient. Here, the insured, plaintiff’s husband, allegedly requested supplemental spousal liability (SSL) coverage on behalf of his wife, the injured plaintiff. The insurer, which allegedly failed to provide the requested coverage, may be liable for her loss.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2023-09-26 15:06:022023-09-28 15:22:09THE DEFENDANT WHICH RENTED OUT THE AERIAL LIFT WHICH MALFUNCTIONED WAS NOT AN AGENT OF THE OWNER OR CONTRACTOR AND EXERCISED NO CONTROL OVER THE WORK, THEREFORE THE LABOR LAW CAUSES OF ACTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED; THE NEGLIGENCE CAUSE OF ACTION, HOWEVER, PROPERLY SURVIVED (FIRST DEPT).
The First Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined that the Labor Law causes of action could not be brough against the defendant (Ahern) which rented out the aerial lift which malfunctioned. Ahern was not an agent of the owner or contractor and exercised no control over the work, so the Labor Law causes of action did not apply. However Ahern could be liable under a negligence theory:
… [O]nly contractors and owners and their agents can be held liable for Labor Law violations … . To be an “agent” of an owner or contractor, a party must have the ability to supervise and control the worksite and/or plaintiff’s work … . Here, plaintiff does not dispute that Ahern was neither an owner nor contractor within the meaning of the statute. The complaint only alleges that Ahern owned and maintained the aerial lift, not that Ahern exercised any supervision or control over the worksite … .
Plaintiff’s complaint, however, sufficiently pleaded a cause of action for negligence against Ahern. Plaintiff alleges that the aerial lift owned by Ahern malfunctioned, causing plaintiff’s coworker to spray plaintiff with the power washer. … [E]ven if plaintiff’s coworker proximately caused plaintiff’s injury, Ahern is not absolved of liability as “there may be more than one proximate cause of an injury” … . Kull v Ahern Rentals, Inc., 2023 NY Slip Op 04721, First Dept 9-26-23
Practice Point: Here the company which rented out the aerial lift which malfunctioned was not an agent of the owner or contractor and exercised no control over the work. Therefore the Labor Law was not triggered. However, the company may be liable under a straight negligence theory.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2023-08-23 14:08:132023-08-25 14:26:21PLAINTIFF IN THIS LADDER-FALL CASE DID NOT DEMONSTRATE THE BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMPANY WAS ACTING AS THE OWNER’S AGENT OR THAT IT HAD SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY OVER THE WORK; THEREFORE SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS AGAINST THE MANAGEMENT COMPANY ON THE LABOR LAW 240(1) CAUSE OF ACTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GRANTED (SECOND DEPT).
The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined summary judgment in this ladder-fall case should not have been granted as against the building manager (Madison) as opposed to the building owner. Plaintiff did not demonstrate Madison was acting as the owner’s agent or that it had supervisory authority over the work. The court noted that the assumption-of-the-risk affirmative defense applies to sports activities, not Labor Law causes of action:
Labor Law § 240(1) imposes liability only on contractors, owners, or their agents. “An agency relationship for purposes of section 240(1) arises only when work is delegated to a third party who obtains the authority to supervise and control the job. Where responsibility for the activity surrounding an injury was not delegated to the third party, there is no agency liability under the statute” … . Here, the plaintiff failed to demonstrate, prima facie, either that Madison was the managing agent for the building or that Madison supervised or controlled any of the work being performed in the building … . Depass v Mercer Sq., LLC, 2023 NY Slip Op 04363, Second Dept 8-23-23
Practice Point: In order to hold the building management company liable in this ladder-fall Labor Law 240(1) action, the plaintiff was required to demonstrate the management company was acting as the owner’s agent and had supervisory control over the work. Plaintiff failed to do so.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2023-03-14 11:39:232023-03-17 14:59:41PLAINTIFF ALLEGEDLY TRIPPED ON DEBRIS AND FELL INTO A TWO-TO-THREE-FOOT-DEEP PIT FROM WHICH THE PLYWOOD COVER HAD BEEN REMOVED TRIGGERING POTENTIAL LIABILITY UNDER LABOR LAW 240(1) AND 241(6); ONE DEFENDANT MAY BE LIABLE AS A STATUTORY AGENT OF THE OWNER WITH SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY; TWO DEFENDANTS MAY BE LIABLE UNDER LABOR LAW 200 FOR THE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS; THE COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FIRST DEPT).
The First Department, reversed Supreme Court and reinstated the complaint in this Labor Law 240(1), 241(6) and 200 action. Plaintiff’s decedent allegedly tripped on debris and fell into a two-to-three-foot deep pit from which the plywood cover had been removed:
… [P]laintiff has raised an issue of fact as to whether application of Labor Law § 240 governs this claim sufficient to defeat defendants’ various motions for summary judgment … .
… [P]laintiff raised issues of fact barring dismissal of the Labor Law § 241(6) cause of action, as Industrial Code §§ 23-1.7(e) and 23-1.30 may apply to circumstances of plaintiff’s accident. Plaintiff’s decedent testified that he tripped over debris in a passageway and then into a pit in an area that was arguably a work area … .
As to Baring’s liability under the Labor Law, it failed to establish that it is not a statutory agent for purposes of Labor Law §§ 240(1) or 241(6). Baring’s contract with Plaza delegated the authority to Baring to supervise and control the installation of kitchen equipment and obligated it to exercise such supervision over any of its subcontractors, such as decedent’s employer. That it may not have actually done so is not dispositive … .
With respect to the Labor Law § 200 and common-law negligence causes of action as against NYY Steak and Plaza, there is an issue of fact as to whether those defendants were on notice that the illumination at the site was insufficient … .. Plaintiff also adduced evidence of constructive notice as to the uncovered pit… . Devita v NYY Steak Manhattan, LLC, 2023 NY Slip Op 01257, First Dept 3-14-23
Practice Point: Plaintiff allegedly tripped on debris and fell into a two-to-three-foot-deep pit from which the plywood cover had been removed. Both Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6) were therefore implicated. One defendant may have been liable as a statutory agent of the owner with supervisory authority. Two other defendants may have been liable for the dangerous conditions, including inadequate lighting, pursuant to Labor Law 200.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2023-02-21 11:43:492023-02-25 12:03:33 THE ALLEGATIONS DID NOT RAISE A QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER THERE WAS A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT INSURANCE AGENT SUCH THAT PLAINTIFF COULD RELY ON THE AGENT TO CORRECT ANY MISREPRESENTATIONS IN THE INSURANCE APPLICATION (FIRST DEPT).
The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the insurance agent’s (Brownstone’s) motion for summary judgment in this insurance-coverage dispute should have been granted. The insurer disclaimed coverage for damage caused by a fire on plaintiff’s property. Plaintiff alleged there was a special relationship between plaintiff and the agent and plaintiff relied on the agent to correct any misrepresentations in plaintiff’s insurance application. The First Department held the allegations did not raise a question of fact about the existence of a special relationship:
Brownstone established its prima facie entitlement to summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s lone claim against it, based on an affidavit of its representative that coverage on the policy was disclaimed due to plaintiff’s alleged material misrepresentations in its application for insurance. …
There were no allegations, let alone evidence, to support a triable issue that plaintiff made a specific request for Brownstone to review its insurance application for any inaccuracies, or that a special relationship existed between plaintiff and Brownstone solely on the basis that the parties had an extended relationship as to insurance dealings … . Plaintiff’s general requests for coverage will not satisfy the requirement of a specific request for a certain type of coverage … . The property coverage provided was not shown to be insufficient for purposes of the insurance application that plaintiff submitted. Absent evidence of a special relationship, it remained plaintiff insured’s responsibility to both review the insurance policy issued, and to correct any inaccuracies present on the insurance application … . 354 Chauncey Realty, LLC v Brownstone Agency, Inc., 2023 NY Slip Op 00941, First Dept 2-21-23
Practice Point: General requests for insurance coverage and a long relationship with the insurance agent do not establish a special relationship such that the insured can rely on the agent to correct misrepresentations in the insurance application.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2022-11-16 11:26:392022-11-19 12:11:13ABSENT FRAUD, COLLUSION OR A MALICIOUS OR TORTIOUS ACT, DEFENDANT ATTORNEYS COULD NOT BE LIABLE FOR ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THEIR AUTHORITY AS AGENTS OF THE CLIENTS AND ALLEGEDLY ADVISING THEIR CLIENTS TO BREACH A CONTRACT WITH PLAINTIFFS (SECOND DEPT).
The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the defendant attorneys (Jin Hu defendants) could not be liable to third parties (plaintiffs) for allegedly advising their clients (DeVito defendants) to breach a real estate purchase contract:
… “[I]nasmuch as the relationship created between an attorney and his client is that of principal and agent, an attorney is not liable for inducing his [or her] principal to breach a contract with a third person, at least where he [or she] is acting on behalf of his principal within the scope of his [or her] authority” … . “Absent a showing of fraud or collusion, or of a malicious or tortious act, an attorney is not liable to third parties for purported injuries caused by services performed on behalf of a client or advice offered to that client” … .
Here, the allegations in the complaint regarding the conduct of the Jin Hu defendants were impermissibly vague and conclusory … . Additionally, the complaint failed to sufficiently allege that the Jin Hu defendants acted outside the scope of their authority as counsel for the DeVito defendants or engaged in any conduct that could make them liable to the plaintiffs … . Asamblea De Iglesias Christianas, Inc. v DeVito, 2022 NY Slip Op 06456, Second Dept 11-16-22
Practice Point: Absent fraud, collusion of a malicious of tortios act, an attorney, as the agent for the principal (the client) acting within the scope of the attorney’s authority, cannot be liable to the plaintiff for advising the client to breach a contract with the plaintiff.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2022-11-10 11:56:212022-11-15 08:43:43THE TOWN CONTRACTED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT ON WHICH PLAINTIFF WAS INJURED; DEFENDANT CONTRACTED WITH THE TOWN TO HANDLE BIDS FOR THE PROJECT; DEFENDANT WAS NOT AN AGENT FOR THE TOWN AND THE LABOR LAW 240(1), 241(6), 200 AND NEGLIGENCE ACTIONS AGAINST DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FOURTH DEPT).
The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court in this Labor Law 240(1), 241(6), 200 and negligence action, determined the defendant was not an agent for the town which had contracted for the work plaintiff was doing when injured. Defendant had contracted with the town to prepare a bid package, solicit bids, obtain grant money and review bids for the construction project:
“An agency relationship for the purposes of section 240 (1) arises only when work is delegated to a third party who obtains the authority to supervise and control the job” … . “Thus, unless a defendant has supervisory control and authority over the work being done when the plaintiff is injured, there is no statutory agency conferring liability under the Labor Law” … . Pursuant to the express terms of the contract between the Town and the nonparty contractor—i.e., plaintiff’s employer—as well as the terms of the contract between the Town and defendant, defendant had no control over the means or methods of the performance of the work by the contractor, and it also had no control over safety precautions for the workers at the construction site … .
For those same reasons, it was error to deny defendant’s motion with respect to the Labor Law § 241 (6) cause of action … . Defendant also established that it did not actually direct or control the work that brought about plaintiff’s injuries, and plaintiff raised no issue of fact with respect thereto. Therefore, it was error to deny defendant’s motion with respect to the Labor Law § 200 and common-law negligence causes of action … . Smith v MDA Consulting Engrs., PLLC, 2022 NY Slip Op 06389, Fourth Dept 11-10-22
Practice Point: In order for a party to be liable as an agent for the owner in a Labor Law action, the party must have some control over the work the injured plaintiff was engaged in. Here the defendant was in charge of bids for the town’s construction project and exercised no control over the work. The Labor Law causes of action against defendant should have been dismissed.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2022-07-08 14:09:022022-07-09 14:41:56PETITIONER SOUGHT TO DEMONSTRATE THAT HIS DECEASED MOTHER DID NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO EXECUTE A DOCUMENT DESIGNATING RESPONDENT AS HER AGENT TO CONTROL THE DISPOSITION OF HER REMAINS; PETITIONER SUBMITTED PROOF HIS MOTHER HAD BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH DEMENTIA, BUT DEMENTIA IS NOT THE EQUIVALENT OF INCOMPETENCE OR INCAPACITY; THE PETITION SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED (FOURTH DEPT).
The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, held that the petition pursuant to Public Health Law 4201 for a determination concerning the disposition of petitioner’s deceased mother’s remains should have been dismissed. The deceased was also the mother of the respondent in this action. The issue was whether the deceased had the capacity to execute a document designating the respondent as her agent to control the disposition of her remains. The proceeding under the Public Health Law is handled like a motion for summary judgment. Although petitioner demonstrated his mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, dementia is not the equivalent of incompetence:
Every dispute relating to the disposition of the remains of a decedent shall be resolved . . . pursuant to a special proceeding” (Public Health Law § 4201 ). Upon the return date of the petition in a special proceeding, “[t]he court shall make a summary determination upon the pleadings, papers and admissions to the extent that no triable issues of fact are raised,” and “may make any orders permitted on a motion for summary judgment” (CPLR 409 [b] …). “[E]very hearing of a special proceeding is equivalent to the hearing of a motion for summary judgment” … . …
Even assuming, arguendo, that the heightened contractual capacity standard is applicable in this case … , we conclude that petitioner failed to establish that the decedent was incapable “of comprehending and understanding the nature of the transaction at issue” … . Although petitioner submitted evidence establishing that the decedent had been diagnosed with dementia in 2014, “there is no presumption that a person suffering from dementia is wholly incompetent” … . “Rather, it must be demonstrated that, because of the affliction, the individual was incompetent at the time of the challenged transaction” … . Here, petitioner failed to set forth any evidence that the decedent was without capacity to execute the designating document in September 2017 … . Matter of Hurlbut v Leo M. Bean Funeral Home, Inc., 2022 NY Slip Op 04439, Fourth Dept 7-8-22
Practice Point: A proceeding pursuant to the Public Health Law to determine the disposition of the remains of a decedent is in the nature of a special proceeding and is handled like a summary judgment motion. Here the petitioner did not raise a question of fact about whether the decedent had the capacity to designate the respondent as her agent to control the disposition of her remains. Proof decedent had been diagnosed with dementia did not raise a question of fact about decedent’s competence or capacity.
https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png 0 0 Bruce Freeman https://www.newyorkappellatedigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NYAppelateLogo-White-1.png Bruce Freeman2022-07-06 19:41:082022-07-14 10:08:27HERE THE FRAMING COMPANY HIRED BY THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND GIVEN SUPERVISORY CONTROL OVER PLAINTIFF’S WORK WAS LIABLE FOR PLAINTIFF’S INJURY AS A “STATUTORY AGENT” OF THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LABOR LAW 240 (1) (SECOND DEPT).
The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant South Ocean Framing was a statutory agent liable for plaintiff’s injury pursuant to Labor Law 240(1). The general contractor hired South Ocean Framing, which in turn subcontracted the framing work to plaintiff’s employer. Plaintiff stepped on a beam which flipped out from under him and he fell 15 feet. He was entitled to summary judgment. With respect to the statutory-agent question, the court wrote:
Contrary to South Ocean’s … contention, it is liable under Labor Law § 240(1) as a statutory agent of the owner or general contractor, since it had the authority to supervise and control the particular work in which the plaintiff was engaged at the time of his injury .. . Once South Ocean became such an agent, it could not escape liability by delegating its work to another entity [i.e., plaintiff’s employer]. Mogrovejo v HG Hous. Dev. Fund Co., Inc., 2022 NY Slip Op 04299, Second Dept 7-6-22
Practice Point: The general contractor hired the framing company. The framing company hired plaintiff’s employer to do the framing. Because the framing company had supervisory control over plaintiff’s work, it was liable for plaintiff’s injury as a statutory agent under Labor Law 240 (1) and could not escape liability by delegating its supervisory role.