Decisions of Interest

Victor Infante v. RCPI Landmark Properties, Tishman Speyer Properties, and Jacobson & Company, Inc.

Supreme Court, Kings County, Index No. 1327/06

Plaintiff, an employee of a general contractor at a construction site, fell when a scaffold owned by a subcontractor, Jacobson & Company, gave away. We successfully moved for summary judgment on behalf of Jacobson. We argued that plaintiff's claims under Labor Law Sections 240(1) and 241(6) did not apply to Jacobson, as it was neither the owner or general contractor and had no power to enforce safety standards or maintain safe working conditions. The only ground for ascribing any liability to Jacobson was its ownership of the scaffold. However, the scaffold had been “borrowed” by plaintiff's employer without compensation to Jacobson. The acquisition of the scaffold thus constituted a “gratuitous bailment”. Jacobson therefore owed only a duty to give warning or notice of defects in the scaffold of which it had actual knowledge and which in reasonable probability would imperil those using it. Jacobson had no duty to inspect the scaffold for latent defects. Plaintiff had worked on the scaffold for forty minutes without perceiving any defect. No other evidence was submitted to demonstrate that Jacobson had any actual knowledge of any defect. Therefore, no liability could attach to Jacobson solely by virtue of its ownership and plaintiff's claims under Labor Law Section 200 and common law negligence claims were also dismissed. We were also successful in having all cross claims for common law and contractual indemnification and contribution dismissed. There was no showing that Jacobson had contributed to plaintiff's injury by breaching a duty to the site owner or the plaintiff, or that the claim arose in connection with Jacobson's performance of work.