COA affirms for general contractor in Lake County traffic construction dispute

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed judgment for a construction company against its subcontractor after a negligence suit was brought against it following an accident that took place in a Lake County traffic pattern the companies were working on.

Boguslaw Maczuga was injured in 2009 while driving through a work zone traffic pattern involving Interstates 65 and 80 in Lake County, eventually suing Walsh Construction Company for negligence. Walsh, a general contractor who had hired Roadsafe Traffic Systems as its subcontractor in the construction, filed a third-party complaint against Roadsafe.

Walsh’s contract with Roadsafe required the subcontractor to procure a commercial general liability insurance policy that named Walsh as an additional insured on a primary and noncontributory basis, and Roadsafe obtained its CGL policy from Zurich American Insurance Co.

When Walsh notified Zurich, pursuant to the terms of the CGL policy, of Maczuga’s lawsuit and requested that Zurich defend Walsh in that suit, Zurich denied Walsh’s request. Walsh then filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against Zurich, alleging that it had a duty to defend and indemnify Walsh. Roadsafe intervened in the declaratory judgment action, and the parties moved for summary judgment, with a ruling coming down in Zurich’s favor that was later affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In its complaint against Roadside, Walsh alleged a breach of the subcontractor’s duty to defend and indemnify Walsh in the Maczuga litigation and argued that Roadsafe was required to pay the $60,000 for the settlement between Walsh and Maczuga, as well as Walsh’s attorney fees and costs in litigating the Maczuga claim and the declaratory judgment action against Zurich.

The Lake Superior Court ruled for Walsh and the COA affirmed in Roadsafe Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Roadsafe Traffic Systems v. Walsh Construction Company, 20A-CT-1308, first finding that Roadsafe is collaterally estopped from asserting that it has no duty to indemnify Walsh.

It likewise ordered Roadsafe to pay Walsh total fees and costs incurred in the Maczuga lawsuit in the amount of $201,603.80, $28,240.96 for total fees and costs incurred in the declaratory judgment action and prejudgment interest in the amount of $134,169.43.

On appeal, the COA concluded that Roadsafe had not satisfied its burden to persuade that the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Walsh was erroneous.

“And the trial court did not err when it ordered Roadsafe to pay Walsh’s attorney’s fees and costs related to the Maczuga litigation, including those incurred before Walsh filed its third-party complaint against Roadsafe,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the appellate court.

“Neither did the trial court err when it ordered Roadsafe to pay Walsh’s attorney fees and costs related to its third-party complaint, including the declaratory judgment action against Zurich. Finally, the trial court did not err when it awarded prejudgment interest on Walsh’s damages. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Walsh,” the appellate panel concluded.

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