August 15, 2014 by Nicole Y. Brown Labor Law, New York 0 comments
Construction Double Jeopardy (NY)?In Carrasco v. Weissman, the Second Department was faced with an interesting question regarding collateral estoppel and suits involving New York’s Labor Law. By way of background, the plaintiff was injured when he and a coworker were installing plate glass window panes in a building under construction. While the plaintiff was standing on the ground and his coworker was standing on a ladder, they lifted a glass window pane together in order to install it. The plaintiff tripped on a piece of brick causing the pane to split in half. The glass then struck the plaintiff and his coworker. The plaintiff sued the general contractor, NCJ Development, for his personal injuries under a common law negligence theory, as well as for claimed violations of §§ 200, 240(1) and 241(6) of the Labor Law. NCJ argued that the plaintiff was barred from suing them under the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the lower court had already granted NCJ summary judgment in the coworker’s suit against them. Collateral estoppel bans a party from litigating an issue that was already raised in a prior action against the same defendant regardless of whether the courts or causes of actions are the same. The Second Department held that collateral estoppel did not apply to this case because the plaintiff was not a party to the coworker’s case. The court explained that although the two cases were joined for trial the plaintiff was not given a fair opportunity to oppose NCJ’s summary judgment motion before the lower court because he was not a party to that case. Thus, the court denied the NCJ’s collateral estoppel argument. Thanks to Moya O’Connor for her contribution to this post. For more information, please contact Nicole Y. Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.