Pepe v. Center for Jewish History, Inc – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Pepe v. Center for Jewish History, Inc. (59 AD3d 277, 873 N.Y.S.2d 571 [1st Dept 2009]), the plaintiff, an employee of a general contractor, was assigned to clear debris from the roof, hopped over a parapet wall that a masonry subcontractor was constructing, landed on an unsecured plywood which was covering a hole in the roof, and fell through (id.).

The subcontractor was required to indemnify the owner for any claims that "arose out of" or "in connection with" the subcontracted work (id.).

The Court held that the building owner was not entitled to contractual indemnification from the subcontractor, since "the connection between plaintiff's accident and the mere existence of the partially constructed wall. .. was too tenuous to trigger the indemnification clause" (id. at 278).

According to the Court, "plaintiff was not performing work that was even remotely related to the subcontractor's masonry work, and the ramp was neither an instrumentality for which the subcontractor was responsible nor a tool or material supplied by or needed by the subcontractor to perform its work" (id.).