The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the Workers’ Compensation Board’s finding that third-party defendant I & G Group was plaintiff’s employer was not binding on the third-party plaintiffs because the third-party plaintiffs did not participate in the Workers’ Compensation proceedings. Therefore the matter has to be litigated and I & G Group’s motion for summary judgment should should not have been granted:
The Court of Appeals has … recognized that a decision by the worker’s compensation board may not be binding on parties who do not participate in its hearings. * * * “[U]nless the Legislature expands the definition of parties in interest, the unfortunate result will be that a duplicative proceeding must be held and the issue of compensability adjudicated anew because defendants never had a full and fair opportunity’ to litigate the question” … .
Here, because it is undisputed that appellants [third-party plaintiffs] were not given notice of the worker’s compensation hearing, and were not afforded the opportunity to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses, their third-party claims, in which they challenge the identity of plaintiff’s employer, should not have been dismissed as precluded by the board’s prior determination of that issue … . Martinez v 250 W. 43 Owner, LLC, 2020 NY Slip Op 00058, First Dept 1-7-20