Big Win in the Court of Appeals

April 14, 2014

New York's highest Court, the New York Court of Appeals, was asked by the 2nd Circuit to step in after "recognizing that it was presented with a novel issue of state statutory law" relating to the interplay of the Worker's Compensation Law and Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 388. Specifically, the Court was called upon to determine whether a defendant sued by a Plaintiff injured by the Plaintiff's co-worker could sue in a third party action the non-negligent owner of the co-worker's vehicle.

Judge Graffeo first concluding that "Read together, these statutes render workers' compensation benefits the exclusive remedy of an injured employee, thereby barring the employee from recovering against a negligent coemployee or employer," then held that "a defendant may not pursue a third-party contribution claim under vehicle and traffic law ... against a vehicle owner where the driver's negligence was a cause of the plaintiff's injuries, but the driver is insulated from a lawsuit under workers' compensation law."

The practical effect of this decision, according to Arthur Siegel of Bond, Schoeneck & King in Albany, who argued the appeal, was that Bond's client, who was found to be 90% at fault for the accident solely by virtue of his ownership of the co-employee's vehicle, was dismissed from the lawsuit.

The decision can be found at http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/court-of-appeals/2014/45-0.html.