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The 2 Types of NY Labor Law §200 Cases - and How to Prove Them

As noted in our earlier articles "How to Prove a Construction Site Accident Case in New York," and "Construction Site Injuries and New York's Labor Laws," there are several ways in which to prove a construction site accident case. One of those ways, which pertains to general worksite negligence, is codified at §200 of the Labor Law.

In Thomas v. 250/PAS Associates, an opinion handed down on May 17, a New York County court had occasion to set forth the two types of Labor Law §200 cases:

(1) where the accident is caused by the manner or tools which the contractor chooses to perform the work; or,
(2) where the accident is caused by a dangerous condition

(see McLeod v Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 41 AD3d  796,797-798 (2d Dept 2007)).

Assuming that the plaintiff was in fact injured by a defective condition at the construction site, the law has been summarized as follows:

"It is well-settled that in order to find an owner or his agent liable under Labor Law §200 for defects or dangers arising from a subcontractor's methods or materials, it must be shown that the owner or agent exercised some supervisory control over the injury-producing work (Rizzuto v. L.A. Wenger Contracting Company, 91 NY2d 343, 352 [1998]; Comes v New York State Electric & Gas Corporation, 82 NY2d 876, 877 [1993] [no Labor Law §200 liability where plaintiff's injury was caused by lifting a beam and there was no evidence that defendant exercised
supervisory control or had any input into how the beam was to be moved]; Ortega v Puccia, 57AD3d 54,61 [2d Dept 2008].

In other words, before a contractor or owner can be held liable under this statutory provision for a worksite injury, the plaintiff is required to show that they had actual, specific authority to dictate how the work was performed at the construction site.  In addition, the plaintiff will have to demonstrate that the defendant either created the dangerous condition that led to plaintiff's accident, or that the defendant knew - or in the reasonable exercise of diligence should have known - about the defective condition, but failed to timely remedy the situation. (In legalese, this doctrine is commonly referred to as "notice.")
Jonathan Cooper
Employment Litigation and School Negligence Lawyer