This long and interesting decision from the appeals court in Brooklyn addresses a few important issues. First, the Court addressed the argument that the Workers’ Compensation law should prevent the injured worker from bringing his claims against the defendants. In New York, if you are injured on the job, you are not allowed to sue your employer and your only remedy against them is Workers’ Compensation. There is also a rule that you cannot sue “alter egos” of your employer. Here, the defendant argued that they were an alter ego of the worker’s employer. To do so, they had to show that they operated as a “single integrated entity” with the worker’s employer and they were not able to do so, even though the companies were “closely related.” The Court noted that the owners of the two companies were careful to keep them separate and distinct: they were not subsidiaries of each other, they were formed for different corporate purposes, they had separate bank accounts and pay their own expenses, and file separate tax forms. The Court went as far as to say that the evidence was strong enough that Defendant was not allowed to use that Workers’ Compensation defense any more in this case.
Second, the Court said that the worker was not a special employee of the defendant because he and his coworkers were paid by checks from their employer, not defendant, and that the ladder and all the equipment they used to work at the defendant’s premises was their employer’s.