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A Flipper Immune to Labor Law Liability?

 House Flipper May Not Be Immune from Labor Law Liability:



A New York appellate court ruled that a triable issue existed as to whether owners of a residential property could avail themselves of the homeowners exemption to Labor Law liability when they allegedly didn't occupy the house and were trying to sell at a significant markup within months after having bought it.


Case: Murati v. Harris, Nos. 12379 305840/11 873987/11, 05/01/2014, published.


Facts: Shkelzen Murati allegedly suffered injuries when he fell from a ladder while performing work at a house owned by defendants Steven and Bernice Harris.


Procedural History: He sued the Harrises for violation of Labor Law Section 240(1).


The Harrises asserted that they were exempt from liability as private homeowners who did not control or direct the construction work at the property.


Murati countered that the Harrises were not using the house for residential purposes, but for commercial purposes, so the homeowners exemption didn't apply to them.


As evidence, he cited the fact that the Harrises attempted to sell the house at a 60% markup only months after purchasing it, discontinued cable and telephone service there in the same year that a tenant occupied it, and removed much of the furnishings from the home.


The Harrises responded that they were unable to use the home because Bernice could not climb stairs after having undergone knee surgery, but they used the house as a weekend home.


Faced with such conflicting evidence, Bronx County Supreme Court Justice Kenneth L. Thompson Jr. denied Murati's motion for summary judgment.


Analysis: The Appellate Division's 1st Department said that Thompson was correct to deny summary judgment since there was a triable issue as to whether the Harrises could avail themselves of the homeowners exemption for Section 240(1).


To read the decision, click here.


Source: WorkCompCentral

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