New York Office Obtains Appellate Reversal of Indemnification Order on Behalf of Subcontractor in Severe Construction Accident Lawsuit

New York, N.Y. (July 5, 2023) – New York Partner Alan R. Levy recently secured an appellate victory in New York’s Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, on behalf of the employer of a worker who was severely injured in a construction site accident. In the underlying case, the plaintiff was employed as a laborer providing “general housekeeping” on a construction site in New York City. He was standing on the ground floor of the site when a steel beam that was being hoisted fell from the 11th floor, crashing down on the ground floor and striking him. As a result, he suffered severe injuries.

New York’s Labor Law § 240(1) imposes strict liability on general contractors for injuries resulting from accidents caused by objects falling due to a height differential. Accordingly, the plaintiff secured a liability judgment against the general contractor five years ago, which entitled the plaintiff to 9% annual interest added onto any eventual judgment. 

The general contractor contended that it was entitled to indemnification from Lewis Brisbois’ client, the plaintiff’s employer, because the contract required the employer to indemnify the general contractor for all accidents “arising from” the employer’s work. The general contractor’s argument was meritless, however, because the plaintiff’s employer had nothing to do with the hoisting of the steel beam. Nevertheless, the lower court granted the general contractor’s summary judgment motion seeking contractual indemnification. This decision was devastating to Lewis Brisbois’ client.

Alan refused to accept the lower court's misapplication of the law and appealed the lower court’s decision to the First Department - Appellate Division. On appeal, the appellate court not only reversed the general contractor’s indemnification order against the client, but also dismissed the case against the client, thus saving the client’s insurance carrier an exposure amount in the seven-figure range.

The decision is DeJesus v. Downtown Re Holdings, LLC, et al.,  ___ A.D.3d ___, ___ N.Y.S.3d ___, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 03287 (1st Dept. 2023).

Mr. Levy, who recently joined Lewis Brisbois, is a member of the firm's General Liability Practice. As a civil litigator with more than 20 years of legal experience, he handles a wide variety of matters including products liability, motor vehicle defense, premises liability, and complex corporate disputes. Mr. Levy obtained the appellate victory discussed above on his fourth day with the firm. 

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