A woman claiming a loose handrail at a HUD facility caused her hand injuries cannot sue the federal department, a federal judge has ruled, holding that it is protected by sovereign immunity.

U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania tossed the lawsuit filed by Marcia Woods, granting HUD’s motion to dismiss.

Goldberg also noted that the a contractor working on the site could not be deemed an employee of the government, those closing off an avenue of liability against HUD.

“The court found that, under the contract, HUD had turned over the day-to-day management of the property to the independent contractor,” Goldberg said. “The mere fact that the government retained some limited oversight power was not enough to deem the independent contractor an ‘employee’ of the government.”