PMT Delivers a Win – Dogged Determination

PMT Deliver a Win - Dodged Determination
By Richard J. Freire.

Court: Appellate Division, First Department
Judges: Hon. Manzanet-Daniels, J.P., Kern, Moulton, Shulman, JJ
Case Type: Labor Law
Caption: Angel Robles v. 635 Owner, LLC and W5 Group LLC
Index No.: 162049/15
Decision Date: March 25, 2021
Decision: Unconditional contractual indemnification

Richard J Freire - Partner

PMT Partner Richard J. Freire – VIEW BIO

Dogged Determination: PMT Unsatisfied with Conditional Indemnification, Obtains Unconditional Contractual Indemnification at the Appellate Division

When confronted with a motion for contractual indemnification, Courts will often grant conditional relief, usually subject to a finding of negligence by the proposed indemnitee. However, such dependent relief keeps open the possibility of a finding of liability at trial, thus defeating the purpose of obtaining indemnification. Further, other parties will often use a conditional grant of indemnification to argue that the indemnitee should contribute to a settlement based on potential exposure and ongoing litigation expenses.

At PMT, where there is no evidence of negligence against our client, PMT will aggressively take an appeal to achieve unconditional contractual indemnification to extricate our clients from further litigation. An example of this dogged determination on behalf of our clients occurred in the case of Robles v. 635 Owner LLC, et al. The plaintiff allegedly fell from a ladder during a renovation project at 635 6th Avenue in New York, NY, sustaining severe injuries for which he underwent several surgeries and asserted a significant lost earnings claim. Following a grant of conditional contractual indemnification to its client, the property owner, against the co-defendant General Contractor, PMT filed and perfected an appeal seeking modification of the lower court’s order and unconditional contractual indemnification.

In a rare reversal under these circumstances, the Appellate Division modified the lower court’s ruling and granted PMT’s client unconditional contractual indemnification against the co-defendant. As the court held, the premises owner “is unconditionally entitled to contractual indemnification by defendant… in connection with plaintiff’s injuries.” The court noted that the plaintiff discontinued his Labor Law § 200 and common-law negligence claims against PMT’s client and co-defendant failed to raise an issue of fact as to the owner’s negligence. Indeed, “[n]othing in the record indicates that [the owner] had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous ladder condition that caused plaintiff’s fall.” As such, the owner’s liability for the plaintiff’s injuries was purely vicarious.

Soon after this favorable decision, the case settled at a private mediation for $3.4MM, all paid by co-defendant’s insurers.

With our aggressive defense and excellent appellate practice, PMT maintained a firm “no pay” position based on unconditional contractual indemnification against a co-defendant, ensuring our client did not contribute to a large settlement.

Let us show you how PMT can do that for you.

Should you have any questions, please call our office at (914) 703-6300 or contact:

Marc H. Pillinger, Executive Partner

Jeffrey T. Miller, Executive Partner