On December 29, 2003 a worker arrived at a job site at 1955 Second Avenue, New York, New York to install a fence. The worker and his associates were all employees of a sub-contractor for a larger project. Their job was to install the fence. The larger project was for the New York Housing Authority. A different company was installing fuel oil tanks both below and above ground at the housing complex. Whenever a tank needed to be installed, a temporary chain link fence needed to be put up around it. One of those tanks was in the rear yard area at 1955 Second Avenue. The worker and his three co-workers parked their work truckon Second Avenue and unloaded the compressor. The compressor was very heavy, but it was on wheels.
The transport of the compressor was achieved with three men pushing the compressor while a fourth stood in front between handles like a rickshaw to pull and steer it. As they were moving the compressor down Second Avenue, one of the wheels jammed into a hole or depression in the roadway causing it to tilt to one side. The jarring motion of the compressor shoved the victim knocking him to the street. He sustained injuries in the fall. The victim filed a labor law claim because he contends that the City of New York failed to provide a safe place for him to work. His suit was filed against the New York City Housing Authority and against the companies that were in charge of the construction. Since he elected to receive worker’s compensation benefits, he was not allowed by law to file any direct lawsuit against the company that he was working directly for.
The Supreme Court ruled that since the victim was not able to show that the city had any prior knowledge of the sink hole that caused the compressor to tilt, it could not be held liable for any negligence in not having it fixed before the victim had his accident. Further, the victim’s claims against the companies that operated the construction site were dismissed. On the day of the accident, the only company employees that were at the site were the co-workers of the victim and the victim himself. There were no representatives of the charge companies on scene nor were they supervising or directing the task.
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