Constructive Notice Not Established by Discussion in Meetings

Geonie v. O.D. & P. N.Y., Ltd., 855 N.Y.S.2d 495 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008)

An injured worker, Geonie, filed a negligence suit against multiple defendants, including the general contractor, after stepping into an opening left by the removal of a tile from a raised floor in a computer room.  Geonie argued that defendants failed to provide adequate safety devices to protect against an elevation-related hazard and failed to adequately supervise the work area.  He further claimed that because the removed tile was discussed at weekly safety meetings, the defendants had, at least, constructive notice of the problem.  The trial court dismissed Geonie’s claims under New York Labor Law and his negligence claim against the general contractor.

The Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the trial court, holding that the removed tile did not create an elevation-related hazard as contemplated by New York Labor Law § 240(1).  The court also found that the contractor exercised adequate control and supervision over the work because it conducted weekly safety meetings with subcontractors, conducted regular walk-throughs of the area, and was empowered to stop work if any unsafe conditions were present.  Geonie failed to prove that the contractor had actual notice of the removed tile and the court held that the mere discussion of the issue at weekly safety meetings was insufficient to raise a triable issue of constructive notice.

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