BLESSINGER v. [And a Third Party Action]

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

Ray J. BLESSINGER, et al., Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. The ESTEE LAUDER COMPANIES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellants, Mably International, Inc., Defendant. [And a Third Party Action]

Decided: April 25, 2000

NARDELLI, J.P., MAZZARELLI, LERNER and FRIEDMAN, JJ. David W. McCarthy, for Daivid W. McCarthy, for Plaintiffs-Respondents. David R. Beyda, for Defendants-Appellants.

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Barbara Kapnick, J.), entered on or about October 18, 1999, which, to the extent appealed from, denied the motion of defendants-appellants The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., Len-Ron Mfg. Co., Inc. and Aramis, Inc. for summary judgment, unanimously reversed, on the law, without costs, the motion granted in its entirety, and the complaint dismissed.   The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of defendants-appellants dismissing the complaint as against them.

 Labor Law § 200 is a codification of the common-law duty imposed upon an owner or general contractor to provide construction workers with a safe work site (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;  Rose v. A. Servidone, Inc., 268 A.D.2d 516, 702 N.Y.S.2d 603).  “An implicit precondition to this duty ‘is that the party charged with that responsibility have the authority to control the activity bringing about the injury’ ” (Comes v. New York State Elec. & Gas Corp., supra, at 877, 609 N.Y.S.2d 168, 631 N.E.2d 110, quoting Russin v. Picciano & Son, 54 N.Y.2d 311, 317, 445 N.Y.S.2d 127, 429 N.E.2d 805;  see also, Greenfield v. New York Telephone Co., 260 A.D.2d 303, 689 N.Y.S.2d 72, lv. denied 94 N.Y.2d 755, 701 N.Y.S.2d 711, 723 N.E.2d 566).   In those situations where the alleged defect or dangerous condition arises from the contractor's methods and the owner exerts no supervisory control over the work, no liability attaches to the owner under either the common law or under Labor Law § 200 (Comes v. New York State Elec. & Gas Corp., supra;  Cruz v. Toscano, 269 A.D.2d 122, 702 N.Y.S.2d 289).

 In this matter, the IAS court erred in denying summary judgment as the record is devoid of evidence which might indicate that defendants played any role in the method plaintiff chose to unload the container or in any way oversaw the operation.