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In Romero v. J&S Simcha, Inc. , Angel Romero was employed by a private contractor and injured in an unshored trench while installing a sewer line for J&S Simcha, Inc. (J&S).

Romero filed suit against J&S and the City of New York, claiming that they had violated New York Labor Law § 241 by failing to provide a safe working environment.

The Kings County Supreme Court granted the City's motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the case and found that even though the City "held legal title to the property … it was not the 'owner' of the property [as far as the Labor Law was concerned] because [Romero's] employer was not a City contractor or working under the City's direction or control."

On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed and concluded that the City was not relieved of liability under § 241 since the statute requires "owners and general contractors to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to person employed in construction, excavation, and demolition work sites, regardless of the absence of control, supervision, or direction of work."

The City thought that outcome stunk.

For a copy of the following Appellate Division's decision, please use this link: Romero v. J&S Simcha, Inc.