FINDLAW: Daily Opinion Summaries for New York Court of Appeals – 10/21/08


AGRICULTURE, CONSTRUCTION, CONTRACTS, INJURY AND TORT LAW

Brothers v. New York State Elec. & Gas Corp., No. 146
In an action by a forestry worker injured on the job, alleging negligence by his employer for which defendant, which contracted with the employer to perform the work, should be held vicariously liable, summary judgment for defendant is affirmed where: 1) a contractual obligation does not necessarily constitute a nondelegable duty in tort; and 2) on the facts of this case, liability could not be extended to defendant.

 

 

CONSTRUCTION, CONTRACTS, INJURY AND TORT LAW, LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW

Brooks v. Judlau Contracting, Inc., No. 147
In an action brought by an ironworker for injuries sustained on the job while employed by defendant’s subcontractor, dismissal of plaintiff’s third-party claim against the subcontractor is reversed where section 5-322.1 of the General Obligations Law allows a general contractor, who has been found to be partially at fault, to enforce an indemnification provision against its subcontractor for that portion of damages attributable to the negligence of the subcontractor, so long as the indemnification provision does not purport to indemnify the general contractor for its own negligence.

 

 
CONSTRUCTION, INJURY AND TORT LAW, LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW

Stringer v. Musacchia, No. 158
Plaintiff who was injured while building a shed for an acquaintance while on a hunting trip was not an “employee” covered by Labor Law section 240(1), as he was providing casual, uncompensated assistance to another person with a repair or construction project in an informal arrangement that did not give rise to mutual duties or obligations between them and bore none of the traditional hallmarks of an employment relationship.

 

 

CONTRACTS, EVIDENCE, FAMILY LAW

Graev v. Graev, No. 139
In a suit over the termination of spousal-support payments after husband claimed that wife had triggered a “termination condition” for such payments by cohabiting with another man, judgment in favor of wife is reversed and case remanded where: 1) the word “cohabitation” was ambiguous as used in the separation agreement; 2) neither the dictionary nor case law supplied an authoritative or plain meaning; 3) “cohabitation” does not require changed economic circumstances; and 4) remand was necessary to determine the intent of the parties based on extrinsic evidence.

 

 

CONTRACTS, INJURY AND TORT LAW, INSURANCE LAW

Sorbara Constr. Corp. v. AIU Ins. Co., No. 157
In a suit seeking to require an insurer to defend or indemnify an insured, judgment for defendant-insurer is affirmed where: 1) when a policy of liability insurance requires that notice of an occurrence be given “as soon as practicable,” such notice must be provided within a reasonable period of time, and failure to give such notice relieves the insurer of its obligations under the contract, regardless of whether the insurer was prejudiced by the delay; and 2) notice provided under the worker’s compensation policy at the time of the incident did not constitute notice under the liability policy even though both policies were written by the same carrier.

 

 

CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE

People v. Lucas, No. 148
Conviction for first-degree murder is affirmed over a claim that the indictment was legally insufficient because it “double-counted” the death of the victim by asserting that defendant had killed him in the course of committing a first-degree kidnapping. 

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