Michael J. Murphy obtained summary judgment in a case brought against an oil company, in Kings County Supreme Court, by showing that the third party claim brought against the oil company was barred under Section 11 of the New York State Worker’s Compensation Law. Plaintiff, who was an employee of the oil company, slipped and fell down a basement stairwell of a restaurant while investigating an oil leak, suffering a torn rotator cuff and torn meniscus in his left knee, both of which required multiple surgeries. Plaintiff commenced a claim against the restaurant where the slip and fall took place and the landlord of the premises for having both actual and constructive notice of the dangerous condition of oil leaking on the basement stairwell.
The landlord in turn filed a third-party complaint against the oil company based on contribution and contractual indemnity claims. The landlord claimed that the oil company’s employee was outside his scope of job duties as an oil delivery man when he proceeded to enter the defendant’s premises to investigate the alleged oil leak, and that the oil company was contractually obligated to indemnify the landlord. Mr. Murphy argued that plaintiff was well within the scope of his employment at the time he was injured, that no express written agreement between the oil company and the landlord existed and thus any third-party claims against the plaintiff’s employer were barred under Section 11 of the New York Worker’s Compensation Law. Following oral argument, the Court granted a complete dismissal of all claims against the oil company, as the Court determined that there was substantial evidence that the plaintiff was well within the scope of his employment for the oil company when the accident occurred, and further found that there was no express written agreement between the landlord and the oil company that would obligate the oil company to indemnify the landlord in the event of an injury on the premises. The motion made on behalf of the oil company made out a prima facie case for dismissal, which the third-party plaintiff could not oppose with any triable issues of fact.