Case by Case: Auto Policy Held Primary in Construction Accident

Case by Case: Auto Policy Held Primary in Construction Accident

By Lawrence N. Rogak. First Mercury Insurance Co. v State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co., 2019 NYSlipOp 51773 (Supreme Court, New York County) (Lebovitz, j) (10/29/2019) In this declaratory judgment action arising out of an injury to a construction worker who was unloading pallets of cement from a flatbed truck, his employer’s GL carrier sought an order declaring that his employer’s auto carrier had the primary duty to defend and indemnify the owner, GC and subcontractor on the job. The Court concluded that the auto insurer, State Farm, had a duty to defend and indemnify all parties, except for the breach of contract claim against the employer. DaSilva, a construction worker employed by subcontractor Europa Construction, was injured while he was standing on the flatbed of a truck attempting to unload pallets of cement; he tripped on a pallet and then slipped on cement mixed with stones that had accumulated on the floor of the truck. Europa was insured, under different policies, by plaintiff First Mercury Insurance Company and by defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. DaSilva, sued the property owner and general contractor, who in turn brought third-party complaints against Europa. First Mercury then brought this DJ against State Farm, seeking a judgment that State Farm owes the primary duty to defend and indemnify Europa, the property owner and the general contractor in the underlying personal-injury action. First Mercury also sought reimbursement of the attorney fees and costs that it expended defending the underlying action. First Mercury then moved for an order declaring that State Farm must: (i) defend and indemnify Europa against the third-party claims brought against it...