Case Law Alerts
A general contractor does not owe a duty of care to protect against harm to subcontractor’s employee where general contractor does not retain any control over the manner and means of the work.
In accordance with the well-established case of Tarabokia v. Structure Tone, 429 N.J. Super. 103 (App. Div. 2012), the New Jersey Appellate Division reaffirmed that a general contractor does not owe a duty of care to protect against harm to a subcontractor’s employee where the general contractor does not retain any control over the manner and means of the work. The general principle established by Tarabokia is that a general contractor may assume that its subcontractor (and its employees) are sufficiently skilled to recognize dangers associated with the work they were contracted to perform and to take appropriate precautions to ensure their own safety. Exceptions to this principle are where the general contractor retains control of the manner and means of the work, as well as when a general contractor knowingly engages an incompetent subcontractor or when the work is inherently dangerous.
In this case, a subcontractor’s employee injured his eye by operating a jackhammer on concrete without using protective goggles. The plaintiff testified that he would typically wear protective goggles while doing this type of work, but on the date of loss, he left his protective goggles at home. The plaintiff further explained that he did not ask for or look for another pair of safety googles, despite the fact that his boss, the subcontractor, kept goggles in its truck on location.
The Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the trial court, which granted summary judgment to the general contractor as it did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care under these circumstances.
Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2021 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 © 2021 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.