“What’s in a name? Everything, if a construction manager is found to be an ‘agent’ of the owner of a New York construction project,” writes Kenneth M. Alweis, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Construction Practice Group.
“New York Labor Law §240(1) (the ‘Scaffold Law’) imposes “absolute liability” on owners, contractors, and their agents for personal injuries suffered by persons engaged in demolition and construction related activities resulting from the forces of gravity. ‘Absolute liability’ means liability without consideration of the comparative fault of the injured plaintiff. Because of the significant liabilities and exposures created by the statute, the term ‘agent’ has been the subject of a great deal of litigation, particularly in the context of construction managers.”
In this article published by the Empire State Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Ken examines recent cases involving the question of whether the defendant was the “agent” of the owner for the purposes of this law, along with recommendations for tailoring the language of contract documents to limit potential liability.