DIACONIS & RODRIGUEZ WIN JUDGMENT FOR COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER POTENTIALLY WORTH OVER $4 MILLION
Partner John Diaconis and Counsel Adam Rodrigues successfully moved for summary judgment on behalf of Westchester County against the Netherlands Insurance Company and Unity Mechanical Corp., in a defense and indemnity case brought in Westchester County Supreme Court.
The lawsuit arose out of injuries sustained by a Unity employee on May 30, 2013. The Unity employee was injured while performing work in the Westchester County Courthouse under a boiler repair contract with the County. The employee was standing on an A-frame ladder and fell to the floor, causing him to sustain significant injuries.
Unity agreed in the boiler repair contract with the County to defend and indemnify the County for “all” liability arising out of the performance under the Contract. Unity also agreed in the Contract to obtain insurance coverage for the County to cover it against any losses arising during the performance of the Contract. And Unity in fact obtained an insurance policy from Netherlands that covered the County.
However, after the Unity employee sued the County in 2013, both Unity and Netherlands refused to honor their contractual commitments to defend the County in the underlying action. So, the County defended itself. Years later, after a finding of “strict” liability against the County under the N.Y. Labor Law, Netherlands disclaimed insurance coverage for the County. Unity and Netherlands also ignored the County’s repeated offers to participate in settlement discussions with Unity’s employee, and the underlying action ultimately settled for $2.875 million. Both Netherlands and Unity then refused to indemnify the County for the settlement amount, so the County sued them both.
After the close of discovery, the County moved for summary judgment. The Court granted the County’s motion and held that Netherlands and Unity both breached their duties to defend and indemnify the County. The Court also held that the County was entitled to attorneys’ fees for defending the underlying action, as well as the action-in-chief to recover the settlement proceeds.
Here is a link to the decision.