A Pipe in the Dark

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Q: While doing fire-protection work at a construction site, I slipped and fell over piece of sprinkler pipe.  The piece was residual waste from my work.  I had placed this pipe in a disposal bucket, but the spackling people had knocked it over.  In the area where I fell, the light bulb had burnt out.  Before the accident, I had complained to the construction manager about this light bulb.

There were all sorts of subcontractors – including an electrician, a drywall company and my employer.  The drywaller had sub-subcontracted-out all of its work and furnished no employees of its own.  The drywaller’s presence was limited to one-hour visits by its president once every other week.

A: Apparently, the construction manager had notice of a dangerous condition that contributed to your accident, and employees of the spackling sub-subcontractor created a condition giving rise to your injuries.  Accordingly, these defendants are vulnerable to a common-law negligence claim.

Apparently, inadequate illumination contributed to this accident.  Accordingly, the electrician, as the subcontractor responsible for electrical work and lighting, is exposed to liability under both common-law negligence and section 241(6) of the Labor Law.

As for the drywaller, it stands in the shoes of the owner and general contractor.  None of the three may be held liable under common-law negligence – in the absence of evidence that the defendant actually created the dangerous condition or had actual or constructive notice of it.  In addition, none of the three is vicariously liable for the common-law negligence of a downstream subcontractor.

However, assuming that the drywaller possessed the authority to supervise all drywall work, and given that employees of the drywaller’s spackling sub-subcontractor had caused the pipe segment to be on the floor, the drywaller is indeed subject to liability under section 241(6).

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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