New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
Workers’ Compensation Lien
Enforcement of settlements
Appealed from Supreme Court, Onondaga County
Background: The plaintiff slipped and fell on a bathroom floor in a shopping mall. The complaint alleged the defendant, who provided janitorial services, created a dangerous condition in the bathroom. The plaintiff was employed at a store in the mall. As his injuries prevented him from returning to work, he received workers’ compensation benefits. The parties agreed to settle the action and a walk away agreement was agreed upon to settle the workers’ compensation insurance carrier’s lien on the action. Before the settlement agreement was executed or the settlement consent letter was issued to the workers’ compensation carrier, the carrier learned that the claimant had returned to work and wished to redraft certain terms of the agreement. The plaintiffs refused to renegotiate and sought to enforce the terms of the settlement. The court agreed and the workers’ compensation carrier appeals.
Ruling: The Appellate Division reversed. The court held that the Supreme Court had no authority to determine that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier waived its statutory lien. The walk away agreement was never approved by the workers’ compensation board as required by Section 32 of the Workers’ Compensation law.
Addison O’Donnell, of Lois Law Firm, for the appellant; Aaron Zimmerman for the plaintiffs-respondents.