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Fullerton Beck Prevails in High Exposure Labor Law Case

Fullerton Beck Partner Jason Aaron secured summary judgment in a high-exposure New York Labor Law case on behalf of the firm’s client, a waterproofing and restoration contractor who was impleaded into the case by defendant-contractor, seeking contractual and common law indemnification and asserted breach of contract claims for our client’s purported failure to procure insurance.

Our client was hired to perform waterproofing and steelwork at a large commercial property in Manhattan, New York. Our client’s employee, the plaintiff, filed suit against the property owner for alleged violations of Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6) after his hand was pinned between a steel beam and hanging scaffold, sustaining injuries to his hand and back. The defendant-contractor sought contractual indemnification and additional insured coverage pursuant to a purported agreement between it and our client. In support of their claims, the contractor relied on contracts, purchase orders and alleged indemnity and insurance agreements to argue they were entitled to defense and indemnity from our client’s carrier.

Jason, however, established that our client never intended to be bound by any agreement about the project. Jason demonstrated in his motion that the essential elements necessary to form an agreement to indemnify and procure insurance were not met, and thus all contract-based claims were dismissed as a matter of law. The court found a lack of mutual assent to the purported agreement relied upon by the contractor and that any alleged error in the agreement was not the result of unintentional or scrivener’s error (a catch-all that usually can defeat such motions).

Jason also obtained dismissal of the breach of contract claim against our client by establishing that requisite insurance coverage had been procured despite the lack of any operative contract. Similarly, Jason obtained dismissal of the common law indemnification claim(s) by establishing that the plaintiff did not sustain a “grave injury” as required and defined under the Workers’ Compensation Law. The court rejected all arguments in opposition to our motion and adopted all of Jason’s arguments on our client’s behalf. As a result, the third-party complaint against our client was dismissed in its entirety.

This is an outstanding result for our client, as it was the targeted party in a case where the alleged injuries typically result in multimillion-dollar damages.

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