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Kane v. Boc Group, Inc.

992 F. Supp. 773 (E.D. Pa. 1998)

CONTRACTS; INDEMNIFICATION; WORKER’S COMPENSATION—For contractual indemnification language to cover negligence on the part of an indemnitee, no particular words need be used, but the intent to afford the coverage must be unequivocally expressed.

An employee was injured while on the job. Her right arm was caught in a refrigerated screw auger which was leased to her employer pursuant to a written lease agreement. The employee’s arm required amputation. She collected worker’s compensation benefits for her injury. The employee filed suit against the leasing company’s parent company. The leasing company’s parent company then filed a third party complaint against the employer for indemnification. The Court found that the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Act governed in this case. Under the Act, third party claims for indemnification against employers are recognized only if the indemnification provisions are unequivocally expressed. The agreement provided indemnification for the parent company and its leasing company “against all costs, claims, liabilities for personal injury or property damages in any way connected with any use or possession of the Equipment… .” The Court found that this particular contract language did not clearly and unambiguously indicate that it was intended to include indemnity claims resulting from the indemnified parties’ own negligence. While no specific language is required, there was no language at all in the agreement indicating an intent to indemnify either party for its own negligence. As a result, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer.


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