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Morris and Joffe Obtain $1.47 Million Judgment on Express Indemnity Claim

July 12, 2019

Ashley Morris (Partner-Los Angeles) and Steve Joffe (Partner-Los Angeles) recently obtained a $1.47 million judgment after a jury trial on an express indemnity action in Riverside County Superior Court. The plaintiff in the underlying action suffered severe injuries after a trip-and-fall on her employer’s property, a local hospital.

Our client, a linen delivery supply company, left an improperly placed floor mat at the hospital, which was seen by hospital personnel and not addressed for several hours. The plaintiff, a 61-year-old employee of the hospital, suffered a severe head injury but was ultimately cleared to work after several months of therapy. The hospital did not return the plaintiff to work despite her doctor’s release and she was forced into early retirement.

Plaintiff sued the linen delivery supply company and other co-defendants but could not sue the hospital due to the exclusive remedy of the worker’s compensation. However, the linen delivery supply company and the hospital had a contract that contain an express indemnity provision. The linen delivery supply company brought a cross-complaint for express indemnity against the hospital.

After five years of litigation, the linen delivery supply company fully resolved the plaintiff’s claims without contribution from the hospital. Ashley and Steve then pursued the express indemnity claim seeking reimbursement of a proportionate share of the underlying settlement amount –$1.825 million. The express indemnity provision also allowed for recovery of attorneys’ fees and defense costs.

At trial, Ashley and Steve successfully argued that the hospital was contributorily negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injuries on the date of the accident, and were successful on obtaining a jury finding that the hospital exacerbated plaintiff’s injuries through a subsequent negligent act of disparate treatment under state employment laws.

Ultimately, the jury found the hospital 40% liable for plaintiff’s injuries and, after post-trial motions, the court further awarded more than $700,000 in attorneys’ fees, defense costs, expert fees, trial-related costs and interest.

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