Project Management Firm Has No Implied Duty to Ensure the Safety of Subcontractor’s Employees

By Gregory Paonessa

The Massachusetts Superior Court (“Court”) recently held in Rodrigues v. Tribeca Builders Corp. that a project management firm whose duties are primarily logistical, managerial and administrative does not owe a duty to ensure the safety of project workers. The Court found that without some level of control over the contractor’s means and methods, the project management firm cannot be held to a duty to ensure project worker safety. The Court also based its holding on the fact that the project management firm’s contract was silent as to safety, and the general contractor’s contract with the owner vested sole responsibility for contractor means and methods, including safety, in the general contractor. This decision highlights the importance of understanding exactly what duties one undertakes when entering into a contract for project management services of an administrative nature, especially where project management firms rarely have the ability to direct workers under the employ of the general contractor or subcontractors on the project.

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