When Employer’s Liability Coverage May Be Limited in New York

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There is case holding that EL coverage may be limited in certain instances, such as when the primary EL carrier is listed as scheduled underlying insurance on an excess policy.

June 28, 2021
Robert S. Nobel & Craig Rokuson - Traub Lieberman

New York recognizes that coverage under Workers’ Compensation (“WC”) and Employer’s Liability (“EL”) policies is generally unlimited. See Tully Const. Co. v. Illinois Nat. Ins. Co., 131 A.D.3d 598 (2d Dept. 2015); Oneida Ltd. v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co., 263 A.D.2d 825, 694 N.Y.S.2d 221 (3d Dept. 1999). However, there is case holding that EL coverage may be limited in certain instances, such as when the primary EL carrier is listed as scheduled underlying insurance on an excess policy.

In Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ins. Co. of State of Pennsylvania, 43 A.D.3d 666, 841 N.Y.S.2d 288 (1st Dept. 2007), an employee of General Industrial Service Corporation (“General”), a subcontractor on a construction project, sought to recover under New York’s Labor Law against the project’s owner and construction manager. Those defendants, in turn, brought a third-party action for indemnification against General. The employee’s personal injury claim was ultimately settled for $2.5 million. After the settlement, the excess insurer, Liberty, filed suit against the primary employer’s liability insurers, The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and American International Group of Companies (collectively, “AIG”), which had refused to participate in the defense or settlement of the underlying personal injury litigation. Although the issue of whether the plaintiff in the underling action had sustained a “grave injury” (necessary to support the common law indemnity claim against General and trigger coverage under the Employer’s Lability policy) had not yet been determined, the court held that “[i]n the event the existence of a grave injury is proven, AIG’s liability will be limited to $1 million.”

Reprinted courtesy of Robert S. Nobel, Traub Lieberman and Craig Rokuson, Traub Lieberman

Mr. Nobel may be contacted at rnobel@tlsslaw.com
Mr. Rokuson may be contacted at crokuson@tlsslaw.com



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