Contract Language on Attorney Fee Recovery Must Be Clearly Stated

After six years of leading the Court of Appeals and the New York State judicial system, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore stepped down as of Aug. 31, 2022. The six remaining judges on the Court of Appeals selected the Hon. Anthony Cannataro to serve as Acting Chief Judge until a successor is named by Gov. Kathy Hochul and confirmed by the State Senate. Much has been written about the ideological split among the six judges of the Court of Appeals, and how the governor’s selection of a new Chief Judge will impact the Court’s jurisprudence. Until then, the Court appeared to be taking a measured approach. The Court has issued about a dozen decisions since Chief Judge DiFiore’s resignation and in all but one of those decisions as of the date this column was drafted, the Court was unanimous in its voting and 5-1 in the remaining case.

In one of those unanimous decisions, the Court of Appeals ruled last month that language in a contract must be express and “unmistakably clear” in order to evince the parties‘ intent to indemnify each other for attorney fees in an action between the parties. in Sage Sys. v. Lissa decision written by Judge Jenny Rivera, the Court determined that a contract’s broad, unrestrictive indemnification language did not demonstrate sufficiently the parties’ clear intent to provide attorney fees related to direct claims between them as opposed to third party claims.

Related Posts

Previous post Lawyer drags city to court over 1-hour parking blocks
Next post The business case for practicing law in paradise