Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins left the team in November and checked himself into a hospital for emotional injuries he claims he suffered at the hands of a teammate and fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito and other team mates. The Dolphins spent time in crisis management mode and announced that Mr. Incognito will never play for the team again and it is also clear now that neither will Mr. Martin.
What was so compelling about the story is that Mr. Martin is not the typical victim of bullying. As a starting NFL lineman after a stellar career playing with Andrew Luck at Stanford, Mr. Martin was hardly someone with a weak physical or mental disposition. Whatever happened in that locker room apparently was pretty extreme. There really is no reason to doubt Martin’s intentions since he clearly has more to gain playing football for the Dolphins than bringing a lawsuit against them.
Appellate Division Expands Scope of the “Emergency Doctrine”
Although the fact pattern of Pelletier v. Lahm, 2013 WL 6084204, 2d Dept., 2013 seems like it was cast from the characters in a lurid reality television show, the case appears to expand the use and scope of the emergency doctrine which in skilled hands can lead to the successful defense of an auto case even where the defendant admits to statutory negligence. Whereas the typical emergency doctrine case involves a driver attempting a defensive maneuver as a result of a car crossing into the defendant’s lane from the opposite direction, Pelletier potentially expands the doctrine to situations involving surprise and/or embarrassment relating to the antics of children and childlike adults.
This Declaratory Judgment Action arose out of the tower crane collapse on May 30, 2008 at 91st and First Avenue which resulted in multiple deaths and millions of dollars in property, person injury and business interruption claims. We represented the owner of the crane New York Crane & Equipment and it insurance carrier against the lessee and operator of the crane Sorbara Construction Co. and its insurance carrier. Despite Sorbara agreeing to provide insurance to NY Crane in the crane rental agreement, Sorbara’s carrier refused, claiming that NY Crane was not entitled to insurance because it had been indicted for criminally negligence homicide for allegedly putting a defective crane in service and also because the accident had not occurred while Sorbara had been working “for” NY Crane as required by the policy. NY Crane and its principal were acquitted of all charges in the criminal case leaving only the issue of whether Sorbara was working “for” NY Crane at the time of the accident. Sorbara’s carrier also argued that it had the right to reject defense costs it deemed not reasonable. With respect to the former issue, Sorbara’s carrier relied on a recent Appellate Division decision involving another crane accident which denied NY Crane coverage under a nearly identical policy provision. We argued however, that despite the two policies having essentially identical language they were formatted and punctuated differently so that when the policy provision in Sorbara’s policy was properly read, the requirement that the accident occur during Sorbara’s work “for” NY Crane did not apply when Sorbara itself was operating the crane. The court agreed and after overcoming several further objections by Sorbara’s carrier with regard to the reasonableness of 60% of the charges, Sorbara’s carrier eventually agreed to pay $2.037 million out of the total claim of $2.3 million in defense costs associated with the underlying cases.
Plaintiff worked for a company that cleaned industrial exhaust systems. Our client operated a restaurant inside the Manhattan headquarters of an international bank. Plaintiff’s employer cleaned the kitchen exhaust hood monthly on the first Friday of the month. They were hired by the building manager not by the restaurant. Plaintiff cleaned at night after the restaurant/kitchen was vacant. The building manager typically notified our client the day the exhaust hoods would be cleaned to give it the option to reschedule if the kitchen was needed for a night event and to make sure the kitchen was properly secured. However, in the months prior to the accident, the building manager had stopped providing the restaurant with notice. Without notice of the cleaning, the chef prepared an industrial sized kettle of broth to slow cook overnight. This was done bi-monthly to use in various dishes. The kettle sat directly underneath the exhaust hood.
On Monday, December 2, 2013, the NYT reported that an animal rights group The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee in Fulton County, N.Y. Although there are laws that protect animal welfare, this is the first time there has been an attempt to establish that a non-human animal has a right to some measure of “liberty.” The head of the Project is seeking to have New York recognize Tommy as a legal person. The Project says the chimp “is being held captive in a cage in a shed at a used-trailer lot.” They are seeking to have the court place him in one of the several U.S. chimpanzee sanctuaries.
The NYT reports that the petition is supported by a “70-plus-page memo rich with legal, scientific and philosophical references” that argues that captive chimps are “enslaved”. The Project argues a chimp is not a possession, but a “cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned.”