Sunday, February 6, 2011

Judge Terrence Nealon Addresses Enforceability of Indemnification Clause in a Lease Agreement

In an Opinion handed down on February 3, 2011 in the case of Pringle v. Keymall, Inc., No. 04 - Civil - 759 (Lacka. Co. Feb. 3, 2011 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas case entered summary judgment in favor of an additional defendant in a case involving contractual indemnity of an owner/landlord by the tenant for a personal injury claim filed by the tenant's employee against the owner/landlord. In so ruling, the court reviewed the law on the special language that is required in the indemnification clause for such indemnity to exist and found that the language used in the lease at issue did not meet the requirements of the law.

By way of background, the plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that he slipped and fell on water while coming down a staircase at his place of employment. At the time of the fall, the plaintiff's employer leased the second floor of the building from the owner/lessor, Keymall.

The Plaintiff filed suit against Keymall only. Keymall joined the plaintiff's employer as an additional defendant. In its Additional Defendant Complaint, Keymall asserted that the plaintiff's employer was "required to contractually indemnify Keymall, Inc. for any and all sums of money that may be required to be paid to the Plaintiff by Keymall, Inc. and which liability is specifically denied.”

Judge Nealon noted that, ordinarily, employers are not liable to injured employees in negligence actions. The law also holds that a third party tortfeasor may not seek indemnity from an employer unless there was an express provision for indemnity set forth in a contract between the parties.

The court then applied the law pertaining to the requisite language necessary to make such an indemnity clause enforceable and found that such requirements were not met in this matter. As such, summary judgment was granted in favor of the injured party's employer who had been joined as an Additional Defendant in this matter.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion by Judge Nealon, which includes a recitation of the indemnity language found to be insufficient under the law, may contact me at

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