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Liability for lending tools / Comment on Fair Repair Act
February 6, 2023
Liability for lending tools
          Our CEO recently read an article about someone getting sued for their tech sharing their tools with a non-employee and then someone causing damage with those tools. We were going to make a policy of not sharing tools with other trades or with clients, but then our field managers said traders share tools all the time and we are often the beneficiary of that. Often other larger trades will have a lift or large power tool on site and we only need it for a small portion of our job and they will let us borrow it. So it seems weird to benefit from that, but then if an electrician or someone needs to borrow our tech's drill for something, we'd instruct him to say no. 
          Do you have any insight on the liability we assume for letting other trades or the client use our tools if they ask to borrow them? 
          This falls under the adage that you should be very mindful of, “no good deed goes unpunished”. 
          There is no absolute liability for lending your tools.  The exposure comes from a deviation of ordinary care.  In this case I think it would involve lending a tool you knew was defective; perhaps an electric tool with missing safeguard; a ladder with dangerous defects. 
Comment on Fair Repair Act from article on January 18, 2023
          NEC & NFPA 70E have clear definitions what constitutes a “qualified person” pertaining to electrical and fire alarm system maintenance and repairs.
          This raises a somewhat different issue.  The law permits the end user the right to try and fix the device.  Non-authorized repair businesses can also now request the tools and manuals to make repairs.  I don’t think the manufacturers or developers who run “dealer programs” or “distributorships” are going to be able to exclude end users or repair business because the manufacturer thinks they aren’t qualified.  That would almost defeat the purpose of the law. 
          We know that certain security devices that First Responders rely on are excluded from the law.  What that will cover remains to be seen.  I don’t believe the new law was intended to circumvent existing license or certifications that municipalities may require.  New York City comes to mind; it has certificates for those permitted to inspect and service fire alarms and the new law isn’t going to change that so that any repairman can now demand the right to work on these systems. 
          Keep in mind that NY’s law is likely to be copied by other states, though the wording will change from state to state as each new state learns the mistakes from the other states [or wants to make their own mistakes]. 

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301