If you were under the distinct impression that your slip and fall case is a "homerun" once you learn the identity of the contractor who was hired to perform snow and ice removal at the place you fell, then you are sorely mistaken.

Here's why:

As a New York County trial court recently pointed out in Guiana v. Langdale Owners Corp., the general rule is that an independent contractor - such as the typical snow removal contractor - doesn't owe any duty to a third party that they have no connection to - such as the typical pedestrian.

There are three (3) exceptions to this rule:

"First, where one engaged affirmatively in discharging a contractual obligation launches a force or instrument of harm; second, where the plaintiff has suffered injury as a result of reasonable reliance upon defendant's continuing performance of a contractual obligation; and third, where the contracting party has entirely displaced the other party's duty to maintain the premises safely. (Church v. Callanan Industries, Inc., 99 NY2d 104 [2002])."

For additional information on this topic, please see "Defining a Snow Removal Contractor's Tort Liability Under New York Law."

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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