Toussaint v. Port Auth. of New York & New Jersey, No. 16, 2022 WL 837579 (N.Y. Mar. 22, 2022)

NY Court of Appeals held that claims asserting violation of workplace safety statutes does not impose non-delegable duty to the owner.

The plaintiff, an employee of Skanska, was struck by a power buggy while operating a rebar-bending machine. A worker who was not trained to operate the buggy drove it a short way before losing control and crashing into the plaintiff. The plaintiff brought an action asserting Labor Law § 241(6) violations against the owner, Port Authority, among other entities. The plaintiff cited to a violation of New York Industrial Code § 23–9.9(a), which provides that “[n]o person other than a trained and competent operator designated by the employer shall operate a power buggy.” 

The Port Authority filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the plaintiff’s Labor Law § 241(6) claim. The Supreme Court of New York and the Appellate Division both found that the Industrial Code regulation was sufficient to support a Labor Law § 241 claim. However, the Court of Appeals of New York reversed and dismissed the Labor Law § 241 claim because it found that the regulation did not contain concrete specifications. The regulation contained a general standard of conduct, lacking a specific and positive command. 

This demonstrates that the court will not impose a non-delegable duty for an owner or general contractor involving a Labor Law § 241(6) claim when the Industrial Code regulation does not provide concrete specifications. 

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