General Contractor Not Required to Provide Insurance Covering Project Owner’s Own Negligence Absent Clear Contract Language Requiring Such Coverage

Gale v. New Jersey Iron, Inc., 2007 WL 2385948 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Aug. 23, 2007)

This case arose after an employee of a sub-subcontractor sued the project owner, the general contractor (“GC”) and the subcontractor for negligence over personal injuries he sustained after falling from a steel beam at the construction site.  All issues settled except for the owner’s cross-claim against the GC alleging that the GC breached its contract when it failed to obtain insurance coverage that protected the owner from its own negligence.

The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the claim.  Initially, the court determined that the “insurance” section of the contract did not specifically require such insurance and was more consistent with the industry standard requiring a GC to provide insurance to indemnify an Owner against acts of negligence by the GC or a subcontractor.  Moreover, the "indemnity” section of the contract merely required the GC to indemnify the owner only to the extent caused by the GC, a subcontractor or anyone employed by them.

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