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Without a duty, there can be no liability for general contractor.

January 1, 2019
Lata v. Loughlin, No. A-1129-17, 2018 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2572 (App. Div. Nov. 26, 2018) (per curiam)

The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant general contractor in this personal injury suit brought by a subcontractor’s employee who was injured on the job site. The court found the general contractor did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff. The motion court reasoned it would be typically inequitable to impose such a duty on a general contractor because it is far removed from daily work activities. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed, holding that a general contractor’s liability for injury suffered by a subcontractor’s employee on a job site depends upon whether: (1) the injury was foreseeable; (2) the general contractor and subcontractor shared a close relationship; and (3) the general contractor had the “opportunity and capacity” to exercise authority over the construction site. Therefore, a general contractor does not have an automatic duty of care to maintain a hazard-free work environment, unless it shares a special relationship with its subcontractor and has authority of the work. This case serves as a reminder that, without a duty, there can be no liability. It is always critical as defense counsel to analyze the legal relationship between the parties prior to the summary judgment stage of litigation.

 

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2019

Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2019 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.

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