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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Refuses to Toss Suit Over Painters’ Deaths

(CN) - An employer and a property owner must face a wrongful death lawsuit after two painters suffocated in the basement where they worked, a New York appeals court ruled.

Wyandanch Community Development Corp. (WCDC) hired PDL Inc. to renovate a house.

PDL installed a gas-powered generator to light the basement where Oliver Bridges and LaTonya Johnson were working. WCDC director James Wallace instructed PDL to board up the basement to keep thieves out of the house.

Several days into the work, Bridges and Johnson were found dead in the house. They had asphyxiated due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The painters' family members sued for wrongful death and personal injury stemming from the painters' conscious pain and suffering.

The lower court allowed the case to proceed, and the justices of the Second Department Appellate Division agreed.

"Wallace's administratrix failed to demonstrate that, as a matter of law, Wallace, as director of WCDC, did not personally participate in the negligent act which created the dangerous condition and caused the death of the decedents," the justices wrote.

"PDL, which installed the generator in the basement of the boarded-up house, failed to demonstrate that, as a matter of law, it did not have control over the worksite or notice of the dangerous condition on the premises," they added.

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