Court Dismisses Third-Party Action Against Contractor-Employer

In a decision dated February 27, 2018, Justice Darrell L. Gavrin of the Queens County Supreme Court granted our clients, third-party defendants Skanska USA Civil Northeast, Inc., E.C.C.O. III Enterprises, Inc., J.F. White Contracting Company, and those companies collectively doing business as SEW Construction, summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint against them as a matter of law.  The plaintiff claimed that he sustained injuries while employed by Skanska, one of the members of SEW, on a construction site owned by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.  The plaintiff attempted to step over a three-foot high concrete form he and his coworkers had created and twisted his ankle.  The Court held SEW established that the plaintiff’s accident did not arise from the kind of elevation-related hazard covered by Labor Law §240, but rather arose from an ordinary danger of a construction site which further had no causal nexus stemming from a lack of prescribed safety devices, as required under §240.  The Court similarly dismissed plaintiff’s claim under Labor Law §§200 and 241.  The Court held the injuries claimed by plaintiff did not rise to the level of “grave injury” as prescribed by §241 and that under Workers Compensation Law §11, third-party common-law indemnification or contribution claims against employers are prohibited unless the employee has sustained a “grave injury”, or the claim is based upon a written contract provision.  As there was no grave injury, and no contract containing such a provision was provided, the Court held that SEW had demonstrated its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the common-law indemnity, contractual indemnity and contribution causes of action asserted against it.

Turner v. Arcadis U.S. Inc., et al. Index No. 702115/2012 (Queens Co. Sup. Ct., Feb. 27, 2018)

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