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Big Labor Law Win for O’Malley and Katz

Plaintiff sustained serious injuries on a commercial construction project in the City of Syracuse when he fell on structural metal decking while preparing to unload construction materials in an elevated work area. The plaintiff sued our client, the general contractor, for alleged Labor Law § 241(6) violations. Smith Sovik filed a third-party action against the plaintiff’s employer, a subcontractor, on the grounds that our client was a third-party beneficiary of an indemnification agreement between the employer and another subcontractor. After several years of discovery and an impasse at mediation, all the parties moved for summary judgment. Supreme Court issued a decision holding our client liable as a matter of law under Labor Law § 241(6) and dismissing our client’s third-party complaint against the plaintiff’s employer.  

O’Malley and Katz appealed.  The Appellate Division reversed.  On the liability issue, the higher court agreed with their contention that the general contractor’s violation of the industrial code, while undisputed, was “not conclusive” as to liability but instead constituted only “some evidence of negligence.”  On the contractual indemnification issue, the Fourth Department “agree[d] with defendants . . . that the [lower] court erred” in its interpretation of the subject contractual indemnification provision.

The New York Law Journal recently analyzed the significance of this decision in the unsettled area of Labor Law § 241(6) in an article NYLJ subscribers can access here.  The decision can be read here.