In New York, to establish a prima facie case of negligence, a plaintiff must prove (1) that the defendant owed a duty to plaintiff, (2) a breach thereof, and (3) injury proximately resulting therefrom. If, defendant’s negligence were a substantial factor, it is considered to be a “proximate cause” even though other substantial factors may also have contributed to plaintiffs. In order to establish the third element, proximate cause, the plaintiff must show that defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in bringing about the injury. Because a finding of negligence must be based on the breach of a duty, a threshold question in tort cases is whether the alleged tortfeasor owed a duty of care to the injured party. Summary judgment is rarely appropriate in a negligence action because the issue of whether a plaintiff or defendant acted reasonably under the circumstance could rarely be resolved as a matter of law.
If it cannot be determined who the parties are who owed a duty to the plaintiff and what the defendants’ respective roles and responsibilities were, no determination as to negligence can be made based upon the evidentiary submissions and adduced testimonies.
Labor Law §200 provides in pertinent part that “All places to which this chapter applies shall be so constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places…. (Trbaci v AJS Construction Project Management, Inc, et al, 2009 NY Slip Op 50153U; 22 Misc3d 1116A [Supreme Court of New York, Kings County 2009). “New York State Labor Law §200 is merely a codification of the common-law duty placed upon owners and contractors to provide employees with a safe place to work (Kim v Herbert Constr. Co., 275 AD2d 709, 880 NYS2d 227 ). In order to prevail on a claim under Labor law §200, a plaintiff is required to establish that a defendant exercised some supervisory control over the operation (Mendoza v Cornwall Hill Estates, Inc., 199 AD2d 368, 605 NYS2d 308 [2nd Dept 1993]). Labor Law §200 governs general safety in the workplace, imposes upon employers, owners, and contractors the affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care to provide and maintain a safe place to work and is a reiteration of common-law negligence standards. Therefore, a Staten Island party charged with liability must be shown to have notice, actual or constructive, of the unsafe condition and to exercise sufficient control over the work being performed to correct or avoid the unsafe condition (Leon v J&M Pepe Realty Corp. et al, 190 Ad2d 400, 596 NYS2d 380 [1st Dept 1993]).