Ramey Law, P.C. turn the tables on the general contractor in an indemnity action to get a reasonable settlement for its subcontractor client
October 25, 2011
Ramey Law, P.C. tried a case in 2011 involving a construction site accident. Although liability for the plaintiff’s injury was a certainty, the underlying issue preventing the case from settling was the express contractual indemnity between our client and another defendant. The other defendant insisted that our client pay 100% of any settlement, as well as their attorney fees. We had determined that this indemnity provision would not apply to the plaintiff’s claims, as the other defendant was clearly actively negligent, and the language of this agreement only required our client to indemnify for the other defendant’s passive negligence. Furthermore, to the extent that the indemnity agreement did apply, it specified that our client was only required to indemnify for it’s own negligence. Despite our best efforts and those of the mediator and trial judge to resolve the case, the other defendant would not budge from its position.
After a two week trial, the case was submitted to the jury and the verdict was in plaintiff’s favor, with the majority of the liability found on the part of the other defendant, with a small portion against our client. Most importantly, the day after the jury verdict, the court heard oral argument on the cross-complaint. The court agreed with our analysis of the indemnity provision, and ruled that our client did not have to indemnify the other defendant for its proportionate share of liability.