Court of Appeals:
Important AI Coverage Decision

On June 6, 2017, the Court of Appeals in New York held that when an insurance policy states that additional insured coverage applies to bodily injury “caused, in whole or in part” by the “acts or omissions” of the named insured, the coverage applies to injury “proximately caused by the named insured.” , (N.Y. June 6, 2017) The Court’s majority (one dissent) rejected the argument that an additional insured obligation is owed under this language when the named insured is without fault. In so holding, the Court concluded that the Appellate Division “erroneously interpreted” the applicable policy language to extend coverage for injury only causally linked to the named insured [“but for” causation] yet “wrongly concluded that an additional insured may collect for an injury caused solely by its own negligence, even where the named insured bears no legal fault for the underlying harm.” In rejecting the concept that “caused, in whole or in part” equals “but for” causation, the Court of Appeals further reversed the First Department’s conclusion that the phrases “arising out of” and “caused by” do not “materially differ.” In so doing, the Court of Appeals continues to place the words of the insurance practice. The Burlington decision dealt with coverage issues concerning a project in which New York City Transit Authority (“NYCTA”) contracted with Breaking Solutions, Inc. (“BSI”) to provide equipment and personnel and for BSI to perform excavation work on a New York City subway tunnel. BSI placed CGL insurance with Burlington with an additional insured endorsement covering NYCTA, MTA, and the City as additional insureds “. . . only with respect to liability...

Culpability and Spoliation:
FRCP Rule 37(E) and New York Law

Culpability is often a central issue in spoliation claims.   In Sarach v M & T Bank Corp., 2016 NY Slip Op 04820 [4th Dept June 17, 2016], a recent Fourth Department case, the Court found that defendant’s violation of a CPLR 3102(c) Order for pre-action disclosure, wherein the defendant promised to preserve surveillance footage, amounted to a “willful failure to disclose.” The Fourth Department, however, disagreed with the lower court that the appropriate sanction was dismissal of the culpable party’s pleadings.  Finding instead that the aggrieved plaintiff was not “prejudicially bereft” of the means to prosecute his action, the Court held that an adverse inference sanction was most appropriate. The dissent in Sarach is noteworthy for its reliance on Pegasus Aviation I, Inc. v Varig Logistica S.A., 26 N.Y.3d 543  [2015] , arguing that the majority failed to follow the Court of Appeals’ approach to  (i) making a finding of spoliation, and (ii) selecting the appropriate sanction. While the dissent agreed that defendant had a duty to preserve the surveillance footage under the first prong of Pegasus[1], it found that the surveillance footage was negligently (not willfully) destroyed under normal business practices.   Instead of an adverse inference charge, the dissent opted for a lesser preclusion sanction that would have prevented the spoliating party from introducing evidence of the video’s content at trial. The dissent’s view that “an adverse inference charge should not be given when…the sole basis for the imposition of a penalty is negligent conduct” is in line with the recently amended Federal Rule 37.  It further raises an important point of divergence between federal and state law....
Automobile

Automobile

Our automobile practice group is well versed in all aspects of litigation in this area, specifically liability and property damage as well as uninsured and underinsured litigation. We have broad-based experience handling cases involving many types of automobiles , including personal automobiles, rental cars, ambulances, para transit vehicles, black cars, taxi cabs, buses, construction vehicles, and shuttles. The Pillinger Miller and Tarallo team routinely tries these matters to verdict as evidenced by the collective 200 verdicts by our automobile practice group throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. With our strong background in the field comes nuanced understanding of the circumstances and inconsistencies that may impact liability. We follow up in a timely manner to ensure proper handling of evidence and data that may prove crucial in a case. Additionally, we regularly counsel our clients on ever-evolving laws and regulations affecting automobiles so that our clients are properly informed on all developments in this field and can develop up to date policies and procedures to protect  themselves and their livelihoods. For more information on our automobile practice group, please contact Shawn Weakland...
Construction

Construction

The construction industry is a dangerous and hazardous field, where accidents and injuries are common. These injuries can be grave and at times deadly. Consequently, the litigation arising out of this industry is costly, which is why our clients turn to us to defend them in these matters. We understand the myriad of issues related to the construction industry since the lawyers in our construction practice group have over 300 years of combined experience handling these matters. Our attorneys defend owners, general contractors, construction managers, and subcontractors in all types of personal injury matters arising out of the construction process. This vast experience enables us to identify the important issues at the onset of litigation in order to transfer risk or resolve these cases on behalf of our clients in a cost-conscious, efficient manner. In addition to handling these matters, we routinely lecture on construction and New York Labor Law topics in order to assist our clients with their risk management and insurance claims throughout New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. For more information on our construction practice group, please contact Jeffrey Miller at jmiller@pmtlawfirm.com, Peter Dunne at pdunne@pmtlawfirm.com or Jeffrey Schulman...
Dram Shop Liability

Dram Shop Liability

At Pillinger Miller Tarallo, our legal team recognizes that dram shop liability is a prevalent concern for alcohol-serving establishments and their insurance carriers. Our lawyers provide a highly-skilled insurance defense representation in liquor liability cases for owners of many types of establishments, such as bars, catering halls, commercial premises, nightclubs, restaurants, and taverns. Our liquor liability attorneys keep up to date on constantly evolving dram shop laws and are prepared to handle a wide array of claims, including those arising from assaults, auto accidents, auto fatalities, DUI, DWI, illegal behavior by patrons, and negligence. Dram shop liability issues can become complex and Pillinger Miller Tarallo has a strong track record of success understanding intricate legal issues. Our background in insurance gives us additional insight into a multitude of factors that interplay in dram shop liability. We also have access to preeminent medical experts and are able to help our clients by investigating and suggesting persuasive defenses. We welcome the opportunity to further discuss our capabilities with regard to dram shop liability. Please reach out by contacting Jeffrey Miller at jmiller@pmtlawfirm.com for more...