April 9, 2019

Foley & Mansfield secured an appellate victory for our client, ACCO, in a case involving indemnity and negligence at a worksite in Berkeley, California.

In 2016, Keith Ameele and Lou Klein of the Los Angeles office of Foley & Mansfield successfully obtained a defense verdict on behalf of ACCO, a mechanical services contractor, in a severe construction accident case in Northern California. Plaintiff sued the general contractor as a result of injuries sustained while working on a construction site. The general contractor in turn sued ACCO, a subcontractor, on a cross-claim. Importantly pursuant to the contract, if the jury found ACCO even 1% at fault, it would have been responsible for the entire verdict.

After a four-week trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff more than $2.6 million dollars in damages, finding that the general contractor was 100% liable for plaintiff’s injuries and ACCO was not negligent in any respect. The trial court awarded ACCO the attorney fees it had incurred in defending the indemnity claim brought by the general contractor.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals found the jury verdict was supported by the evidence. The Court of Appeals also affirmed the award of attorney fees to ACCO. The general contractor argued that ACCO had not suffered damages because the attorney fees incurred by the subcontractor were paid by insurance. The Court of Appeals noted the attorney fees were a contractual provision and that the general contractor should not be able to avoid its contractual obligation “based on the fortuitous circumstances that they sued a defendant who obtained insurance coverage providing a defense.” As a result, all the attorney fees and costs incurred by our client were the responsibility of the general contractor.

Margaret I. Johnson and Louis Klein of the Los Angeles office of Foley & Mansfield wrote the appellate briefs, while Johnson argued the matter to the Court of Appeal.

 

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