Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Specificity Needed in Indemnification Agreement to Waive Employer Immunity in Personal Injury Litigation

In his recent decision in the case of Genevich v. TSE Inc., No. 09 - CV - 5119 (C.P. Lacka. Co. May 17, 2013 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed the issue of the specificity required in an indemnification agreement to waive employer immunity in a personal injury litigation.

In Genevich, a laborer who was injured in a construction site accident filed a personal injury suit against the project’s general contractor.  The general contractor joined the laborer’s employer based upon an indemnification clause contained in its subcontractor agreement. 

The employer filed a motion for summary judgment in which the employer of the injured party asserted that the indemnification provision in the subcontractor agreement was insufficient to waive its tort immunity under the Worker’s Compensation Act so as to make employer liable for indemnification or contribution for injuries suffered by its employee. 

After reviewing the record before it, the court ruled that since the indemnification clause did not expressly state that the subcontractor agreed to indemnify the general contractor from liability for the general contractor’s own negligence which resulted in harm to the subcontractor’s employees, the clause lacked the specificity required by 77 P.S. §481(b) for the subcontractor to waive its employer immunity under the Worker’s Compensation Act. 

Accordingly, since the subcontractor cannot be liable for indemnification or contribution under the facts and the indemnification clause presented in this case, the court granted the employer's motion for summary judgment.

Anyone desiring a copy of this decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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