Wall v. Structure-Tone


New York Law Journal


Justice Peter Moulton

Defendants union workers allegedly physically assaulted non-union worker, Wall, while he was on a church renovation project. Employer Structure-Tone and the First Avenue Presbyterian Church, among others, moved for summary judgment dismissing Wall's complaint. At issue were causes of action for vicarious liability for intentional torts allegedly perpetrated by the assailants. Structure advised Wall to cease working at the site until an agreement could be worked out with the union, yet Wall was subsequently asked to return and work on the windows off-site, and union employees would reinstall them. The court stated the fact the assault may be a spontaneous act did not absolve an employer from liability. It ruled there was an issue of fact if the assault was in furtherance of movants' business as Structure allowed Wall to return to the site when it could not find union workers to replace him. Thus, the court stated movants could not be awarded summary judgment dismissing the intentional torts based on vicarious liability. Also, as there was a security guard at the front desk, the court noted Wall may show he relied on, or was lulled into a false sense of security by the guard's presence, denying movants summary judgment.

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