The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment on his Labor Law 240 (1) cause of action. Plaintiff, who was not wearing a harness, had fallen through a skylight. The anchor points for harnesses had not yet been installed. The employer’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the property owner’s third-party complaint seeking indemnification was, however, properly denied. The Workers’ Compensation Law allows suit only when the injury is grave (not so here) or where there is a written indemnification agreement. Here there was an indemnification agreement entered after the accident. There was a question of fact whether the agreement was intended to be effective retroactively:
Here, the plaintiff established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by submitting evidence that he was not provided with necessary protection from the gravity-related risk of his work and that the absence of the necessary protection was a proximate cause of his injuries … .
… An employer may be held liable for contribution or indemnification only when its employee has sustained a grave injury as defined by the Workers’ Compensation Law or when there is a “written contract entered into prior to the accident or occurrence by which the employer had expressly agreed to contribution or indemnification of the claimant” … . The Workers’ Compensation Law does not bar indemnification or contribution pursuant to a written agreement that was entered into after the employee’s injury and which the parties agree will have retroactive effect … . “[I]ndemnity contracts are to be strictly construed to avoid reading into them duties which the parties did not intend to be assumed” … . Therefore, an indemnity contract will not be held to have retroactive effect “unless by its express words or necessary implication it clearly appears to be the parties’ intention to include past obligations” … . Cacanoski v 35 Cedar Place Assoc., LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 00956, 2nd Dept 2-8-17
LABOR LAW-CONSTRUCTION LAW (PLAINTIFF ENTITLED TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON HIS LABOR LAW 240 (1) CLAIM, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT WAS INTENDED TO BE EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY)/WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW (PLAINTIFF ENTITLED TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON HIS LABOR LAW 240 (1) CLAIM, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT WAS INTENDED TO BE EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY)/CONTRACT LAW (WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW, INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT, QUESTION OF FACT WHETHER INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT WAS INTENDED TO BE EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY)