FISHER v. BROWN GROUP INC

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York.

James FISHER, Appellant, v. BROWN GROUP, INC., Respondent.

Brown Group, Inc., Third-Party Plaintiff, v. Asbestos Removal Services, Inc., Third-Party Defendant-Respondent.

Decided: December 31, 1998

Present:  PINE, J. P., HAYES, CALLAHAN, BALIO and BOEHM, JJ. Christopher A. Spence, P.C. by Christopher Spence, Buffalo, for Plaintiff-Appellant-Fisher. Hurwitz & Fine, P.C. by Donna Burden, Buffalo, for Defendant-Third-Party-Plaintiff-Respondent-Brown. Williams, Stevens, McCarville & Frizzell, P.C. by Gerald Whalen, Buffalo, for Third-Party Defendant-Respondent-Asbestos Removal Services, Inc.

 Supreme Court properly denied the motion of plaintiff for partial summary judgment on defendant's liability under Labor Law § 241(6).   Contrary to plaintiff's contention, the violation of a specific provision of the Industrial Code, even if admitted by defendant, “does not establish negligence as a matter of law but is ‘merely some evidence to be considered on the question of a defendant's negligence” ’ (Schmeer v. County of Monroe, 175 A.D.2d 633, 633-634, 572 N.Y.S.2d 568, quoting Zimmer v. Chemung County Performing Arts, 65 N.Y.2d 513, 522, 493 N.Y.S.2d 102, 482 N.E.2d 898, rearg. denied 65 N.Y.2d 1054, 494 N.Y.S.2d 1033, 484 N.E.2d 1055;  see, Sacchetti v. Vasile Constr. Corp., 254 A.D.2d 777, 678 N.Y.S.2d 198;  Irwin v. St. Joseph's Intercommunity Hosp., 236 A.D.2d 123, 131, 665 N.Y.S.2d 773).   We reject plaintiff's contention that defendant and third-party defendant should be precluded from introducing evidence of plaintiff's comparative negligence at trial.   Comparative negligence is a valid defense to a Labor Law § 241(6) cause of action (see, Long v. Forest-Fehlhaber, 55 N.Y.2d 154, 161, 448 N.Y.S.2d 132, 433 N.E.2d 115, rearg. denied 56 N.Y.2d 805, 452 N.Y.S.2d 1026, 437 N.E.2d 1161).  Defendant raised comparative negligence as a defense, and the factual issues with respect to that defense should be resolved at trial (see, Sacchetti v. Vasile Constr. Corp., supra;  Irwin v. St. Joseph's Intercommunity Hosp., supra, at 132, 665 N.Y.S.2d 773;  see also, Giraldez v. City of New York, 214 A.D.2d 461, 462, 625 N.Y.S.2d 517).

 The court properly granted the cross motion of defendant for summary judgment dismissing the common-law negligence and Labor Law § 200 causes of action.   Defendant established that the dangerous condition arose from the methods of plaintiff's employer and that defendant exercised no supervisory control over the work being performed (see, Comes v. New York State Elec. & Gas Corp., 82 N.Y.2d 876, 877, 609 N.Y.S.2d 168, 631 N.E.2d 110;  Lombardi v. Stout, 80 N.Y.2d 290, 295, 590 N.Y.S.2d 55, 604 N.E.2d 117).   Defendant's mere presence at the worksite is insufficient to impose liability under Labor Law § 200 (see, Lysiak v. Murray Realty Co., 227 A.D.2d 746, 749, 642 N.Y.S.2d 350;  Pazmino v. Woodside Dev. Co., 212 A.D.2d 520, 521, 622 N.Y.S.2d 299).

 The court also properly denied plaintiff's motion in limine to preclude defendant and third-party defendant from introducing evidence related to plaintiff's injuries and damages (cf., Kish v. Board of Educ., 76 N.Y.2d 379, 385-386, 559 N.Y.S.2d 687, 558 N.E.2d 1159).

Order unanimously affirmed without costs.

MEMORANDUM: