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Lease doesn’t protect building owners from liability in case of accident

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Does your company own its facility but lease out part of the building or grounds to a third party? If so, remind management that the company may still be liable for injuries to a worker who is doing repairs or construction on the building without the owner’s knowledge. It doesn’t matter whether the lease specifies that no work can be done without the owner’s permission.

Recent case: Christopher Sanatass was a mechanic hired to install a commercial air conditioning unit for C2 Media, which leased space in a Manhattan building owned by Consolidated Investing. The sublease and master lease under which C2 Media rented the space contained clauses that specified that no construction work could be performed on the premises without the building owner’s permission.

Sanatass was nearly crushed when a hoist failed. Sanatass sued numerous parties—including Consolidated Investing—alleging negligence and violations of the New York Labor Law. The court said the owner could be liable and that property owners could not “contract away” their liability in a lease. (Sanatass v. Consolidated Investing, et al., No. 60, Court of Appeals of New York, 2008)

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