A Dec. 1, 2021 decision from the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, by Justice Judith Reeves McMahon in Gundlach, Plaintiff, v. Jaehon Kim, et. al., 73 Misc.3d 1227(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2021), involves oft-encountered situation—a condominium unit owner’s request that a building employee perform a small side job which is not part of that employee’s ordinary duties for its employer. Unfortunately for the board of managers involved in this case, it may be liable for personal injuries which occurred solely inside the apartment.
As cooperative and condominium attorneys, we frequently encounter residents’ requests that building employees perform tasks inside an apartment, such as installing a faucet, hanging an oversized picture or, as is the case in Gundlach, installing a ceiling fan. For residents, asking a building employee to handle such side jobs may seem more like a rule, rather than the exception. Gundlach, however, illuminates the risks that may await a board when one of these small side jobs goes awry, and serves as a cautionary tale.