When is an Indemnification Provision Unenforceable?

Red question mark amidst white question marks

What language of indemnification provisions make them unenforceable?

September 6, 2021
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

Virginia Code Sec. 11-4.1 makes indemnification provisions in construction contracts that are so broad as to indemnify the indemnitee from its own negligence unenforceable. Of course, this begs the question as to what language of indemnification provisions make them unenforceable.

A case from the City of Chesapeake Virginia Circuit Court examined this question. In Wasa Props., LLC v. Chesapeake Bay Contrs., Inc., 103 Va. Cir 423 [unfortunately I can’t find a copy to which to link], Wasa Properties (“Wasa”) hired Chesapeake Bay Contractors (“CBC”) to perform utility work at Lake Thrasher in the Tidewater area of Virginia. Wasa then alleged that CBC breached the contract and caused over $400,000 in damages due to incorrectly installed water lines. Wasa used the following indemnification language as the basis for its suit:

To the fullest extent permitted by law, the Contractor shall indemnify and hold harmless the Owner and his agents and employees from and against all claims, damages, losses, and expenses, including but not limited to attorney’s fees arising out of or resulting from the performance of the Work.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com


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