A wrongful death action was filed arising from a car accident which occurred in New York during a early morning in March. Involved in the truck accident was a tractor-trailer driver in the employ of a trucking company. According to sources, due to an electrical problem, the tractor-trailer stalled in traffic in the center lane of the Expressway. The driver got out of the tractor-trailer, walked to the front of the vehicle, and got down on the ground under the truck. While the driver was under the truck, a truck owned by a truck rental company pushed the tractor-trailer forward and onto the tractor-trailer driver’s chest, thereby causing his death.
As a result of the truck accident, the truck rental company filed a property damage claim with its insurance carrier. The insurance company paid the claim and instituted arbitration proceedings against the insurance company for the tractor-trailer trucking company seeking reimbursement for the property damage claim. The tractor-trailer driver’s widow instuted a civil action for wrongful death against driver of the truck and the truck’s owner. The Bronx driver and the Brooklyn truck owner, in turn, filed a third-party action against the owner of the tractor-trailer seeking contribution and indemnification.
The truck company who owns the tractor-trailer sought to dismiss the complaint based on the doctrine of collateral estoppel. The truck company said the doctrine bars the truck driver and the truck owner from seeking indemnification and contribution because its responsibility for the accident was previously litigated in the property damage arbitration proceeding instituted by the rental truck company’s insurance carrier. The tractor-trailer truck company said the truck driver and the truck owner are bound by the finding of the arbitrator that the tractor-trailer was not negligent, and, therefore, not liable for the accident.
The court explained that the equitable doctrine of collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, gives conclusive effect to an administrative agency’s quasi-judicial determination when two basic conditions are met: (1) the issue sought to be precluded is identical to a material issue necessarily decided by the administrative agency in a prior proceeding; and (2) there was a full and fair opportunity to contest this issue in the administrative tribunal.
In this case, the court held that although there may have been an identity of issues in the two proceedings, there is no evidence that insurance carrier vigorously represented the truck driver or the truck owner’s interest, or that the truck driver and the truck owner were in privity with the insurance carrier. The court said it was the insurance carrier that had control and involvement in the arbitration litigation. The court said the truck driver and the truck owner had little or no interest in the property damage arbitration and thus, no direct stake in its outcome.
Suffering from person injuries, losing your earning capacity, and being involved in a lawsuit arising from such is difficult. There are New York Car Accident Attorneys who will stand by you and help see you through your case. These Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are compensated.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its NY Personal Injury Lawyers, has convenient offices throughout the New York Metropolitan area including Corona, NY. Our Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through situations where an injury resulted because of another’s negligence. Without our Attorneys, you may lose your rights which may cost you a significant amount of money.
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