Massachusetts Building Code Does Not Render Either Engineer or Architect Liable for Unsafe Working Conditions on Owner’s Site

Garcia v. Federics, 2007 WL 2367672 (Mass. Super. Ct. July 9, 2007)

In this case, the Superior Court granted a motion for summary judgment brought by the architect and engineer of a project on claims asserted by a construction worker injured on the job.  As grounds for its ruling, the court found that neither the contract between the owner and the construction company nor the contract for architect’s services assigned responsibility to the architect or engineer for safety issues on the project.  Thus, the court found that the architect and engineer did not have a contractual duty to protect the worker against unsafe working conditions. 

In reaching its decision, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the Massachusetts Building Code created a duty for the architect and engineer to control safety conditions.  Specifically, the court noted that the Massachusetts Building Code places the responsibility for the conditions of the building on the owner of the building rather than the architect or engineer.  Plaintiff’s additional claims also failed because he could not demonstrate a reasonable expectation of proving that the architect and the engineer had a duty of care to the worker.  The cross-claims by the owner failed because the architect and the engineer were not directly liable to the worker.

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