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Rocovich v. Consolidated Edison Company

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department
Nov 26, 1990
167 A.D.2d 524 (N.Y. App. Div. 1990)


November 26, 1990

Appeal from the Supreme Court, Queens County (Durante, J.).

Ordered that the cross appeal by the defendant third-party plaintiff is dismissed as abandoned, without costs or disbursements; and it is further,

Ordered that the judgment is modified, on the law, by deleting the second decretal paragraph thereof, and substituting therefor a provision dismissing the third-party complaint; as so modified, the judgment is affirmed, without costs or disbursements.

On May 10, 1984, the plaintiff, a construction worker, was performing asbestos insulation work at the Hudson Avenue Station, a power plant owned and operated by the defendant third-party plaintiff Consolidated Edison Company. At the time, the plaintiff was employed by the third-party defendant King Insulation Company, Incorporated, who in turn was under contract with Consolidated Edision Company to perform the work.

The plaintiff's job was to replace and repair insulation on a series of large pipes located on the roof of the power plant. The pipes were located in a recessed area. In the center of the recessed area and adjacent to the plaintiff's work area was a trough, containing hot oil collected from the overflowing tanks, which led to the plant's boilers, where it would be used to generate electricity. In the course of his duties, the plaintiff attempted to cross the trough, which was approximately 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep, and in doing so slipped and fell, severely burning his foot and leg.

We reject the plaintiff's contention that the court should have applied Labor Law § 240 (1) rather than Labor Law § 241 (6) to the instant case (see, Zimmer v. Chemung County Performing Arts, 65 N.Y.2d 513). Labor Law § 240 (1), which imposes absolute liability, is addressed to situations in which a worker is exposed to the risk of falling from an elevated worksite or being hit by an object falling from an elevated worksite (see, Siragusa v. State of New York, 117 A.D.2d 986, 987). Workers exposed to the usual dangers of construction are covered by Labor Law § 241 (6) (see, Yaeger v. New York Tel. Co., 148 A.D.2d 308). While Labor Law § 240 (1) is to be liberally construed (see, Zimmer v. Chemung County Performing Arts, supra, at 520-521), it was not intended to protect workers who fall from so miniscule a height as 12 inches.

Additionally, the jury verdict was not against the weight of the evidence. It is well settled that an appellate court may not set aside a jury's verdict as being against the weight of the evidence unless it finds that the jury could not have reached its verdict upon any fair interpretation of the evidence (see, Cohen v. Hallmark Cards, 45 N.Y.2d 493, 498; Nicastro v. Park, 113 A.D.2d 129, 136). In the instant case, there was evidence that planking supplied to the site was not used for its intended purposes by the workers. Additionally, there was evidence that the plaintiff was aware of the risk the trough presented and had crossed it many times. Moreover, there was evidence that it may not have even been necessary for the plaintiff to cross the trough when he fell while attempting to do. From this, as well as other evidence, the jury certainly could have fairly concluded that the plaintiff was 90% at fault in the happening of the accident.

However, the court should have dismissed the third-party complaint. Pursuant to the terms of the contract between Consolidated Edison Company and King Insulation Company, Incorporated, the latter agreed to indemnify the former for all liability for personal injury arising out of the work done. In addition, King Insulation Company, Incorporated, was required to maintain not only its statutory workers' compensation insurance, but, additionally, a general liability insurance policy naming Consolidated Edison Company as an additional insured. In furtherance of this obligation, King Insulation Company, Incorporated, obtained $500,000 of general liability coverage, and $5,000,000 of excess liability coverage.

By requiring the procurement of insurance naming itself as an additional insured, Consolidated Edison Company waived any right to common-law contribution or indemnification up to the limits of the policy (see, Pennsylvania Gen. Ins. Co. v. Austin Powder Co., 68 N.Y.2d 465; Michalak v. Consolidated Edison Co., 166 A.D.2d 213). Since the award to the plaintiff against the Consolidated Edison Company was far less than the limits of the policy, the third-party complaint is dismissed. Mangano, P.J., Thompson, Sullivan and Rosenblatt, JJ., concur.

Summaries of

Rocovich v. Consolidated Edison Company

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department
Nov 26, 1990
167 A.D.2d 524 (N.Y. App. Div. 1990)
Case details for

Rocovich v. Consolidated Edison Company

Case Details


Court:Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

Date published: Nov 26, 1990


167 A.D.2d 524 (N.Y. App. Div. 1990)

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