Negligence Claims Tossed in Tragic Garage Case
(CN) - Contractors involved in the incomplete construction of a parking garage where a car fell 32 feet, killing the driver, were not negligent, a New York appeals court ruled.
Charles and Julie Simon were hired to hang wallpaper at a newly completed office building owned by Granite Building 2 LLC on Feb. 13, 2008.
An adjacent parking garage was still under construction, but Julie drove onto its upper deck when the couple could not enter through the building's front entrance. She was then unable to stop the car as it slowly slid on ice until it reached the incomplete parking deck, broke through a steel guardrail and plunged 32 feet to the garage's lower level.
Though Charles jumped out of the car on the upper deck, Julie fell with the car and died at the scene.
Charles sued Granite, along with the property manager, construction manager and two subcontractors for negligence and Labor Law violations.
In a 2012 order giving Charles leave to amend his allegations, the Nassau County Supreme Court denied motions by some defendants for summary judgment.
A four-judge panel of the Appellate Division's Brooklyn-based Second Department modified the order on Feb. 13, finding that the several of the defendants deserved dismissal of the common-law negligence claims as well as claims against them under Sections 240(1), 241(6) and 200 of the Labor Law and causes of action.
"Here, Canatal and MCLO demonstrated, prima facie, that they did not create the dangerous condition that caused the accident, and the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition," according to the unsigned decision.
In dismissing some of the Labor Law claims, the court emphasized that the Simons
"were not working in a construction area at the time of the accident, and the accident did not occur in connection with construction, demolition, or excavation work being performed by them."
"Wallpapering in and of itself is not enumerated activity under the Labor Law, and the plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to establish that the work that he and the decedent would have performed was part of the larger construction project," the justices added.
Without trying to isolate the moment of injury, the court also concluded "that the accident occurred before the plaintiff and his decedent had begun any work that conceivably could have been covered under these sections of the Labor Law."
Other claims under the Labor Law against MCLO, Canatal and FXR fail because they established "that they did not have authority to supervise or control the area of the work site" where the accident occurred.