Joseph A. Petrillo Successfully Defends Engineering Firm in a Subrogation Case
Joseph A. Petrillo successfully defended the appeal on behalf of his client, an engineering firm, in subrogation case under the “Entire Controversy Doctrine.” Plaintiff brought suit, as subrogee of a condominium unit owner, for damages alleged to be caused by water intrusion following a construction renovation project in which Joseph’s client was involved. Multiple claims related to that construction project (consolidated into one earlier lawsuit), had already been fully litigated. These earlier claims include one by the Plaintiff’s subrogor and another by Plaintiff as subrogee for a different condominium unit owner. Joseph asserted that Plaintiff’s claim was barred under the Entire Controversy Doctrine, because Plaintiff had the opportunity to join the prior consolidated litigation but did not do so. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim and the Appellate Division affirmed agreeing with Joseph’s assertion that the ECD barred the claim. The takeaway in this matter is that a Plaintiff/ Subrogee, with full knowledge of a lawsuit involving their potential subrogor, may not file a separate, later claim that could have been brought in the earlier suit. An insurer who wants to protect its interests must do everything to consolidate or intervene in the underlying claim to preserve its rights.