Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals held that when an employer pays premiums to a mutual insurance company to obtain a policy for its employee and the insurance company demutualizes, the employee is entitled to the proceeds from demutualization.Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company (MLMIC) issued professional liability insurance policies to eight medical professionals who were litigants in the cases before the Court of Appeals on appeal. The premiums for the policies were paid by the professionals' employers. After MLMIC demutualized and was acquired by National Indemnity Company, MLMIC sought to distribute $2.502 billion in cash consideration to eligible policyholders pursuant to its plan of conversion. At issue was the employers' claim of legal entitlement to receive the demutualization proceeds. The Supreme Court held that, absent contrary terms in the contract of employment, insurance policy, or separate agreement, the employee, who is the policyholder, is entitled to the proceeds. View "Columbia Memorial Hospital v. Hinds" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that separate schedule loss of use (SLU) awards for different injuries to the same statutory member are contemplated by N.Y. Work. Comp. Law **(WCL) 15 and that, when a complainant proves that the second injury, considered by itself without consideration of the first injury, has caused an increased loss of use, the claimant is entitled to an SLU award commensurate with that increased loss of use.At issue in these consolidated appeals was whether, under WCL 15, a claimant's SLU award must be reduced by the percentage loss determined for a prior SLU award to a different subpart of the same body member enumerated in section 15. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment below, holding that separate SLU awards for a member's subparts are authorized by statute. View "Johnson v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division modifying the order of Supreme Court by granting Plaintiff summary judgment on his claim brought under N.Y. Labor Law 241(6), holding that the section 241(6) claim must be dismissed.Plaintiff was struck by a power buggy while working at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub construction site owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority). Plaintiff filed this action against the Port Authority, bringing claims under N.Y. Labor Law 241(6) and N.Y. Labor Law 200(1). Supreme Court granted the Port Authority summary judgment on the section 200(1) claim but denied summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Appellate Division modified by granting Plaintiff summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that 12 NYCRR 23-9.9(a) does not set forth a concrete specification sufficient to give rise to a non-delegable duty under section 241(6). View "Toussaint v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that N.Y. Labor Law 198-b, which prohibits wage kickbacks, does not contain an implied private right of action.Plaintiff, who worked as a math teacher at Utica Academy of Science Charter School, brought this action against the school and High Way Education, Inc. after the school failed to renew his contract. Plaintiff alleged that High Way and Utica jointly demanded and collected illegal kickbacks in violation of Labor Law 198-b. Supreme Court dismissed all causes of action against High Way except for the section 198-b claim. The appellate division reversed, dismissing the complaint against High Way in its entirety. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that section 198-b meets the test for determining whether a private right of action can be implied from the statute. View "Konkur v. Utica Academy of Science Charter School" on Justia Law

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In response to questions certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Court of Appeals held that inferences of vesting of retiree health insurance rights when construing a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) are inconsistent with New York's established contract interpretation principles.In Kolbe v. Tibbetts, the Court of Appeals left open the question of whether a New York court should infer vesting of retiree health insurance rights when construing a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Supreme Court rejected such inferences as incompatible with ordinary contract principles under federal law, thus repudiating International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, & Agriculture Implement Workers of America v. Yard-Man, Inc., 716 F2d 1476 (6th Cir 1983). In answering the questions certified to it in this case, the Court of Appeals (1) held that it maintains its traditional contract interpretation principles, including those set forth in Kolbe; but (2) clarified that New York's contract law does not recognize Yard-Man-type inferences. View "Donohue v. Cuomo" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held in these consolidated appeals that liability for the death benefits claims at issue could not be transferred to the Special Fund for Reopened Cases (the Special Fund).At issue in these appeals was whether New York Workers' Compensation Law 25-a(1-a), under which no liability for claims submitted on or after January 1, 2014 may be transferred to the Special Fund, forecloses the transfer of liability for a death benefits claim submitted on or after the cut-off date, regardless of the prior transfer of liability for a worker's disability claim arising out of the same injury. The Court of Appeals held that, based on the plain statutory language and this Court's established precedent, liability for the death benefits claims at issue in these cases could not be transferred to the Special Fund. View "Verneau v. Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the appellate division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court dismissing this complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, his former employers, violated the antidiscrimination statutes by denying his application for employment following the completion of his criminal sentence. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff adequately alleged a violation of the antidiscrimination statutes. View "Sassi v. Mobile Life Support Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that, under NY City Civ Ct Act 1808, small claims judgments do not have collateral estoppel or issue preclusive effect but that such judgments may have the traditional res judicator or claim preclusive effect in a subsequent action involving a claim between the same parties arising out of the same transaction at issue in a prior small claims court action.Plaintiff brought an action against her former employer in a small claims part of Civil Court seeking damages arising out of the alleged nonpayment of wages. After Defendant satisfied the small claims judgment, Plaintiff commenced this action in the federal district court seeking additional damages based on Defendant's failure to pay her overtime wages. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the federal litigation was barred under the doctrine of claim preclusion. In response, Plaintiff argued that NY City Civ Ct Act 1808 rendered small claim preclusion inapplicable to small claims judgments unless the subsequent action raised precisely the same claim or theory as the earlier action. The district court rejected Plaintiff's argument but certified a question to the Court of Appeals asking for an interpretation of section 1808. The Court of Appeals answered the question as set forth above. View "Simmons v. Trans Express Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division holding that recovery of a claimant's schedule loss of use (SLU) award by his estate is limited to the portion of the award that would have been due to the claimant for the period prior to the claimant's death, holding that the Appellate Court did not err.Claimant in this case died from a cause unrelated to his workplace injury during the pendency of his claim for permanent partial disability benefits. The Court of Appeals held that Claimant's estate was not entitled to a lump sum payment of a posthumous schedule loss of use award issued to Claimant pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Law, holding that the estate may recover only reasonable funeral expenses and the portion of the SLU award that would have been due to Claimant before death. View "Estate of Youngjohn v. Berry Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims that sought to hold Michael Bloomberg vicariously liable for Nicholas Ferris's offending conduct, holding that Bloomberg was not an "employer" within the meaning of the New York City Human Rights Law (City HRL).Plaintiff brought this action against her employer Bloomberg L.P., her supervisor Ferris, and Michael Bloomberg, bringing several claims arising from her alleged discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse. At issue was whether Bloomberg, in addition to Bloomberg L.P., could be held vicariously liable based on his status as owner and officer of the company. Supreme Court denied Bloomberg's motion to dismiss. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the causes of action against Bloomberg. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege that Bloomberg was her employer for purposes of liability under the City HRL. View "Doe v. Bloomberg, L.P." on Justia Law