Sarkisian Bros. v. Hartnett – Case Brief Summary (New York)

Sarkisian Bros. v. Hartnett, 172 AD2d 895, 568 N.Y.S.2d 190 (3rd Dep't 1991) concerned Sheldon Hall, a former classroom building located on the campus of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego.

SUNY had abandoned this building and transferred it to the State's Office of General Services (OGS). Thereafter, a project was developed to renovate the building and use it as a hotel and convention center.

Sarkisian Brothers, the petitioner, executed an agreement whereupon they would bear the costs of the renovation. As the work was being done, workers complained about their rate of pay.

The Commissioner of Labor ordered hearings and thereafter confirmed the report of the Hearing Officer that the Sheldon Hall renovation was a public works project subject to prevailing wages.

Petitioner then commenced an Article 78 proceeding. The courts upheld the decision, finding that the project in dispute was intended to benefit the public. First of all, the building was to be leased, not sold, so it did not lose its public ownership.

The agreement was subject to approval in multiple ways by OGS and SUNY to make sure the needs of the public were met.

Further, there was a guarantee of public access to Sheldon Hall on at least one day per month, and 75% of its rooms were to be reserved to SUNY. These provisions and others demonstrated "the public use, public ownership, public access and public enjoyment characteristics of the project." (172 AD2d at 896.)