In a workplace accident personal injury case, the court had to decide the issue as to whether the defendants were precluded from relitigating an issue as to a second plaintiff after having litigated the same issue as to a different plaintiff.
On July 23, 2003, plaintiff Ceja and plaintiff Nunez were injured when a portion of the sidewalk shed they were in the process of dismantling collapsed causing them to fall about 20 feet. Both plaintiffs were employees of Rockledge Scaffolding Corp. The building was owned by defendant Columbia Condominium, and Blue Woods Management Group, Inc. managed it. Columbia had a contract with York Restoration Corp. to perform exterior masonry restoration and repair work to the building’s facade.
Ceja and Nunez filed separate claims based on the injuries they suffered. Nunez filed his first. In his claim, Nunez named as defendants Blue Woods, Wilson, York and Columbia. Nunez filed a motion for summary judgment against each of the defendants. The court granted the motion on plaintiff Nunez’s Labor Law § 240(1) claims against Blue Woods and Columbia, but denied it as to York, as the court determined that there existed a material issue of fact as to York’s responsibility for the accident, and as to whether York was a general contractor as defined by the law. The court also determined that Mr. Nunez’ request for summary judgment on his other Labor Law claims were moot. York’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and all cross claims was denied, and Blue Wood’s cross motion to dismiss the complaint and the cross claims for indemnification were denied. At a jury trial related to the cross claims by Wilson, Blue Woods, and Columbia against York for contractual indemnification, the jury found in favor of York, concluding that the Wilson, Blue Woods, and Columbia were not entitled to contractual indemnification.
After the Nunez’s claims were resolved, plaintiff Ceja filed a personal injury claim against Columbia and Blue Woods. Just like Nunez did earlier, Ceja moved for summary judgment on his Labor Law § 240(1) claims against Columbia and Blue Woods. Ceja’s basis for summary judgment was collateral estoppel, asserting that since his injuries arise out of the same accident as Nunez’s injuries, and it was determined that the defendants were liable in the Nunez action, Ceja argued that the same defendants are precluded from relitigating the same issue and challenging liability.