condition created by another of defendants’ independent contractors. On this motion for summary judgment, defendants, who so carefully protected themselves by using only independent contractors, learn this simple rule instead.
While is may be true that a party who hires an independent contractor is not liable for that independent contractor’s negligent acts, that is only so as to duties which are nondelegable. As to nondelegable duties, such as those to keep a premises safe, independent contractor or not, a defendant owner will be liable for public premises. “Whenever the general public is invited into stores, office buildings, and other places of public assembly, ‘the owner of such premises is charged with the duty to provide members of the general public with a reasonably safe premises, including a safe means of ingress and egress.’”
The long line of cases supporting the proposition are in the decision, not the least of which is the Second Department’s own Backiel v. Citibank, 299 A.D.2d 504, a perennial favorite. The beauty here is that the use of the property controls, and the astute practitioner need not even read Espinal to find liability. Sometimes the law is like an onion; you need only peel away what you need, leaving all else undisturbed.