A contract will not be construed to indemnify the indemnitee against losses resulting from its own negligence unless such an intention is expressed in unequivocal terms


Law Lessons from Lake Estates Condominium Assoc., Inc. v. Falcon Engineering LLC, N.J. Super. Law Div. (Natali, P.J.Ch.), MIDDLESEX COUNTY, DOCKET NO. L-6171-15, August 31, 2017:

Under the law of New Jersey, “a contract will not be construed to indemnify the indemnitee against losses resulting from its own negligence unless such an intention is expressed in unequivocal terms.” Mantilla v. NC Mall Associates, 167 N.J. 262, 272-73 (2001) (quoting Ramos v. Browning Ferris Indus. of S. Jersey, Inc., 103 N.J. 177, 191 (1986)). Following this precedent, the court in Azurak v. Corporate Property Investors, 347 N.J. Super. 516 (App. Div. 2002), concluded that “the absence of the requisite clear and explicit language addressing indemnification for the [indemnitee’s] negligence precludes recovery for its portion of the judgment for defense costs.” 347 N.J. Super. 516, 523 (App. Div. 2002). “Any doubts or ambiguities as to the scope of the exculpatory language must be resolved against the drafter of the agreement and in favor of affording legal relief.” Gershon, Adm’x Ad Prosequendum for Estate of Pietroluongo, supra, 368 N.J. Super. at 247 (citation omitted).

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