$5k fine for falling ice upheld

217 West 57th Street. Image Credit: Google Maps.

Ice fell from tall crane following ice storm. On December 17, 2019, a citizen complained that ice was falling from Central Park Tower, a 98-story building at 217 West 57th Street in Midtown, Manhattan.  Upon arrival, the Department of Buildings officer witnessed ice formations on crane and hoisting equipment operated by Lend Lease Construction. With the assistance of the New York Police Department, the Buildings officer closed the streets around the crane and hoist after determining that the only way to remove the ice would be to move the crane and hoist, which would cause more ice to fall to the streets below.

The officer issued Lend Lease a summons. OATH Hearing Officer M. Goichman upheld the summons and ordered Lend Lease to pay the $5,000 fine. Lend Lease appealed.

On appeal, Lend Lease argued that the summons was void because the Building Code does not explicitly require Lend Lease to safeguard against falling ice.  Furthermore, Lend Lease had no duty with respect to falling ice which was unforeseeable and was occasioned by a “perfect storm” of weather conditions.

The OATH Appeals Unit upheld the Hearing Officer’s decision and rejected Lend Lease’s argument of a lack foreseeability as the weather forecasts for December 17, 2019 accurately predicted the inclement weather.

The Appeals Unit also rejected the argument that the Building Code did not explicitly address falling ice. The Appeals Unit upheld a broad duty to protect the public and property and Lend Lease’s failure to act was a breach of duty to protect the public and property from dangerous conditions arising from their construction operations.

DOB v. Lend Lease (US) Construction, OATH Appeals Unit (Appeals No. 2100621) (July 22, 2021)

By: Brian Dugan II (Brian is a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2022.)


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.