On August 10, 2015, the NJ Appellate Division decided an important, precedential clarification on apportionment of liability among defendants in an on-the-job injury case brought by an employee’s estate against the employer and others (A-4439-11T2, A-4705-11T2 & A-4713-11T2) and invalidated a four month long jury trial due to the trial court’s errors, in Estate of Jack D’avila v. Hugo Neu Schnitzer East.
The “Mammoth Litigation”
What the Appellate Division characterized as “this mammoth set of appeals and cross-appeals” were the culmination of many issues which were tried to a jury during a four month span. In essence, the decedent suffered a workplace accident on a construction site, in which the decedent, a subcontractor’s employee, was struck “on the head by an unsecured metal ladder and became paralyzed.” After being initially injured by the unsecured ladder, the decedent suffered a series of faults from others. The Appellate Division summarized it thus:
Following that traumatic injury, the worker received negligent medical treatment, including the deprivation of sufficient oxygen, causing him brain damage. He died three years later. The worker’s estate filed suit against the job site’s owner that served as the project’s general contractor, several of the worker’s post-accident medical providers, and various other parties. The owner filed separate claims for contractual indemnification against both the worker’s own employer and against an installation subcontractor, alleging that each of them bore responsibility for the hazard posed by the unsecured ladder. Additionally, several insurers and an insurance broker whose policies were implicated by the accident sought coverage rulings. READ MORE