Claims Against Subcontractor Discontinued Early in New York Labor Law Suit
Case Study

Claims Against Subcontractor Discontinued Early in New York Labor Law Suit

December 2, 2020

Taking an aggressive defense posture from the outset, Goldberg Segalla partner Theodore W. Ucinski III swiftly removed a construction subcontractor from a multi-party New York Labor Law suit venued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The matter stemmed from injuries the plaintiff, our client’s employee, alleged to have occurred while painting an apartment in a Brooklyn apartment building. The plaintiff claimed he fell from a ladder while working, suffering soft-tissue injuries to his back and knee. He did not undergo any surgeries, but claimed he could not return to work.

The plaintiff sued the building owner, and the general contractor on the project. The owner asserted a third-party action against our client and the general contractor asserted claims against our client as well.

Notably, our client, the subcontractor, did not have a contract with either the general contractor or the building owner—and the plaintiff did not suffer a “grave injury” under New York Labor Law. Appearing for a conference before Magistrate Judge Levy, Ted asked the magistrate to remove our client from the litigation, arguing that the subcontractor was not a proper party because our client was the plaintiff’s employer and neither of the exceptions to the Workers’ Compensation Bar were present. Counsel for the building owner took the position that the plaintiff’s injuries could be deemed grave, and based upon that assertion the Magistrate did not further pressure the owner’s counsel to let our client out.

Undaunted, Ted sent a letter to all of the parties following the conference citing the plaintiff’s claimed injuries and the requirements for an injury to be deemed “grave.” He also reiterated there was no contract requiring indemnification. He concluded by advising all parties that he would seek sanctions and costs if they did not discontinue the case.

As expected, the partied agreed to discontinue the action as against our client. This strategic defense posture and aggressive efforts toward resolution saved our client the significant costs of remaining through multi-party depositions and finally moving for summary judgment.


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