Labor Law § 241(6) provides that an owner of real property is liable for persons injured doing work on the premises if reasonable and adequate protection and safety are not provided and if they fail to comply with provisions of the Industrial Code.

The Court of Appeals held that the condominium in Guryev v. Tomchinsky was not liable for an injured worker because the work was being done in an apartment that was owned by two individuals – not by the condominium. The Court noted that “[t]he apartment is real property separate and apart from the land beneath the condominium building, and plaintiff’s accident occurred when he was working in the [the owners’] apartment.”

Parenthetically, the Court noted that “[c]ooperative corporations have been held to be owners potentially liable under the Labor Law when a contractor’s employee is injured while performing construction work in an apartment within the building.”

The Court accepted the differing outcomes because an owner’s liability under the Labor Law “turns in every case” on “sometimes fine distinctions relating to ownership of the premises and control of the injury producing work.” In this regard, the Court held that “condominium apartments are owned by individual unit owners [and] a cooperative corporation owns an entire building, including the apartment where individual tenants-shareholders reside.”

Guryev v. Tomchinsky, 20 N.Y.3d 194 (December 11, 2012).