Laundry operator held liable

300 East 46th Street. Image Credit: Google Maps.

Laundry operator installed gas dryers that failed to meet Building code in the laundry room of an apartment house. On February 26, 2019, Hercules Corp. leased a room from 46th Street Leaseholder LLC in a apartment building at 300 East 46th Street, Manhattan.  Under the lease, Hercules was to install and operate card-metered laundry equipment to create a running laundry room for tenants.

On July 2, 2019, during Hercules’s work on the laundry room, there was a surprise inspection by the Department of Buildings. Buildings found that Hercules had failed to install an automatic sprinkler system and failed to install eight hard pipes as the final gas connection to the dryers in the laundry room. Buildings issued a violation to the building owner, 46th Street, alleging that leaseholder Hercules had installed gas flex connections instead of the hard piping as required, and charging that Hercules had not obtained the necessary Building permits for the work.

The violations required Con Edison to shut the building’s gas service off, thus depriving approximately 179 apartments of cooking gas for stoves. In order to meet the Building code and resume gas service, owner 46th Street would have to install pressure tested gas shutoff lines, test each individual riser, and replace any riser that failed to meet standards, all at a cost of approximately $75,000.

46th Street sued Hercules for breach of contract, alleging that Hercules improperly installed and operated the card-metered laundry room. Hercules defended by claiming that the inspection by Buildings was an intervening act that caused of the loss of gas service.

Justice Nancy M. Bannon ruled in favor of owner 46th Street, granted summary judgment, and rejected the argument that the surprise inspection was a defense.

The Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the decision in favor of owner 46th Street. The Appellate Division explained that the violations and shutdown of the gas in the building were direct consequences of Hercules’s breach of contract, not the inspection by Buildings. Hercules breached its contract by failing to install a sprinkler system and hard-piped connections prior to the installation and operation of the laundry.

46th Street Leaseholder LLC v. Hercules Corp. 175 N.Y.S.3d 501 (1st Dep’t. 2022).

By: Erica DiPietro (Erica is a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)



Leave a Reply

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