Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Employment Law
Palladino v. CNY Centro, Inc.
Appellant was disciplined and then terminated from his employment with his Employer. The Union of which Appellant was a member filed several grievances protesting the discipline and subsequent termination, which were denied. The Union’s executive board then voted unanimously against proceeding to arbitration. Appellant commenced two separate actions against his Employer and the Union, alleging, among other claims, breach of the duty of fair representation against the Union. Supreme Court denied the Union’s motion for summary judgment as to the claim for breach of the duty of fair representation. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that, pursuant to Martin v. Curran, the complaint was fatally defective because it failed to allege that the Union’s conduct was ratified by “every single member” of the association. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that Martin was inapplicable and, alternatively, that this precedent should be overruled. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the Martin rule applied to this action and that adoption of a rule that does away with Martin was best left to the Legislature.View "Palladino v. CNY Centro, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Employment Law
Kaslow v. City of New York
Petitioner worked at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) until April 1991. While employed at DEP, Petitioner was a Tier 4 New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) member. Later in April 1991, Petitioner was appointed a correction officer at the New York City Department of Correction (DOC). Accordingly, Petitioner became a member of the Tier 3 CO-20 retirement plan established by N.Y. Retire. & Soc. Sec. Law 504-a(c)(2). In July 2009, Petitioner retired from DOC. NYCERS subsequently approved Petitioner’s retirement but refused to credit his DEP service. Petitioner filed a petition against the City and NYCERS asking the court to direct NYCERS to recalculate his pension to include his DEP service. Supreme Court granted Kaslow’s petition, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) Petitioner’s pension was defined in its entirety by section 504-a(c)(2); and (2) as a result, NYCERS properly did not consider Petitioner’s previous civilian service with DEP when calculating Petitioner's pension benefit.View "Kaslow v. City of New York" on Justia Law
Posted in: Employment Law
Isabella v. Koubek
Roberta Oldenborg was driving Matthew Isabella back from a business meeting in a vehicle owned by Michael Koubek when Oldenborg collided with a vehicle driven by Doris Hallock and owned by Peter Hallock. Isabella was injured in the accident but was precluded under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law from bringing an action against Oldenborg since she was his coworker. Instead, Isabella received workers’ compensation benefits secured by his employer. Isabella and his wife subsequently filed a personal injury action against the Hallocks. The Hallocks, in turn, filed a third-party complaint against Koubek seeking contribution and indemnification, asserting that the accident resulted from Oldenborg’s negligence and that Koubek was vicariously responsible. A jury found the Hallocks ten percent liable and Koubek ninety percent liable. The Court of Appeals answered a certified question of law and answered that a defendant may not pursue a third-party contribution claim against the owner of a vehicle where the vehicle driver’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries but the driver is protected from suit by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Law.View "Isabella v. Koubek" on Justia Law
Jacobsen v. New York City Health & Hosps. Corp.
In 1979, Plaintiff began his employment with Defendant, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), where he was eventually promoted to health facilities planner. In 2005, Plaintiff was diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, an occupational lung disease. In 2007, Defendant terminated Plaintiff. In 2008, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging, among other claims, that HHC had unlawfully discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the State Human Rights Law (State HRL) and the City Human Rights Law (City HRL). Supreme Court granted summary judgment for HHC, concluding that Plaintiff could not, even with a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of his job. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding that HHC was not entitled to summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff’s State HRL and City HRL claims, as (1) both statutes generally preclude summary judgment in favor of an employer where the employer has failed to demonstrate that it responded to a disabled employee’s request for a particular accommodation by engaging in a good faith interactive process regarding the feasibility of that accommodation; and (2) under the facts of this case, Plaintiff presented colorable claims of disability discrimination under the City HRL and State HRL.View "Jacobsen v. New York City Health & Hosps. Corp." on Justia Law
Fabrizi v. 1095 Ave. of the Ams., LLC
Plaintiff filed an action against Defendants, a construction company and the owner of a building, after he was injured when a heavy conduit pipe fell on his hand while he was working at the building, alleging that Defendants violated N.Y. Lab. Law 240(1). Supreme Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment on liability, concluding that the conduit, being attached to the ceiling by a compression coupling that failed, was not properly secured so as to give proper protection to Plaintiff. The Appellate Division modified the order of the Supreme Court by denying Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendants’ failure to provide a protective device, i.e., a set-screw coupling rather than the purportedly inadequate compression coupling, was a proximate of his accident. The Court of Appeals accepted certification and held that the order of Supreme Court as modified by the Appellate Court was not property made, as Defendants’ failure to use a set screw couple was not a violation of section 240(1). View "Fabrizi v. 1095 Ave. of the Ams., LLC" on Justia Law
Morris v. Pavarini Constr.
Plaintiff filed a personal injury action against Defendants, the construction manager and owner of a building at a construction site, after a large, flat object fell and injured his hand. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, a violation of N.Y. Lab. Law 241(6). Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s section 241(6) claim, arguing the form that injured Plaintiff’s hand was not subject to the safety requirements of Industrial Code N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. 12,23-2.2(a). The Court of Appeals remitted the matter for further proceedings for a hearing on whether the object as issue was a “form” within the meaning of the Industrial Code. After a hearing, Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s section 241(6) claim, concluding that the form at issue did not come within the coverage of the regulation or section 241(6). The Appellate Division reversed and granted summary judgment to Plaintiff. The Court of Appeals accepted certification and concluded that the Appellate Division’s order should be affirmed, holding that the language of N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. 12,23-2.2(a) could sensibly be applied to the form that fell on Plaintiff’s hand.View "Morris v. Pavarini Constr." on Justia Law
N.Y. Hosp. Med. Ctr. of Queens v Microtech Contracting Corp.
Plaintiff-hospital engaged Defendant to undertake demolition in a basement room at the hospital. Defendant hired brothers Luis and Gerardo Lema, undocumented aliens not legally employable in the United States. The Lemas were injured while performing the work and sued the hospital for violations of the state’s Labor Law. Supreme Court granted the Lemas summary judgment on liability. The hospital, meanwhile, brought this action for common-law and contractual contribution and indemnification against Defendant to recover damages incurred in the Labor Law litigation with the Lemas. Supreme Court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint did not state a cause of action, reasoning that N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law 11 barred the hospital’s action. In so holding, the court determined that non-compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) did not deprive Defendant of the protection of section 11. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant was entitled to the safe harbor in section 11 because the Lemas did not suffer grave injuries, there was no preexisting agreement for contractual contribution or indemnification, and the hospital did not contend that IRCA preempts section 11.View "N.Y. Hosp. Med. Ctr. of Queens v Microtech Contracting Corp." on Justia Law
Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd.
Plaintiff was being treated at a private medical facility, a nurse employed by the clinic committed an unauthorized disclosure of Plaintiff’s confidential health information. Plaintiff filed this action in federal court against Defendants, various affiliated entities that allegedly owned or otherwise controlled the clinic. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss all eight of Plaintiff’s claims. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of all but one of Plaintiff’s causes of action, reserving decision on Plaintiff’s claim of breach of fiduciary duty. In a separate opinion, the Second Circuit found the nurse’s actions were not foreseeable to Defendants nor taken within the scope of her employment. The court, however, certified a question to the New York Court of Appeals regarding Defendants’ liability where respondeat superior liability is absent. The Court of Appeals answered that, under New York law, the common law right of action for breach of the fiduciary duty of confidentiality for the unauthorized disclosure of medical information may not run directly against medical corporations when the employee responsible for the breach acts outside the scope of her employment. View "Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd." on Justia Law
Kolbe v. Tibbetts
Plaintiffs, former employees of a school district (District), were members of a collective bargaining unit. One plaintiff retired while the 1999-2003 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was in effect, and the other plaintiffs retired under the 2003-2007 CBA. In 2009, the District informed Plaintiffs that their co-pays would be governed under the terms of the 2007-2012 CBA, resulting in an increase from their previous co-pay charges. Plaintiffs filed this action for breach of contract, alleging that by increasing their co-pays, the District violated the terms of the CBAs in effect when Plaintiffs retired. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the contract did not specify that an equivalent level of coverage would continue during retirement. The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division as modified, holding (1) the plain meaning of the contract unambiguously established that Plaintiffs had a vested right to the "same coverage" during retirement as they had when they retired; and (2) because an issue of fact remained as to whether the parties intended for the right to the "same coverage" to preclude any modifications to prescription co-pays, it was necessary to remit the case for a hearing on the issue.View "Kolbe v. Tibbetts" on Justia Law