“For all we knew, that would be the last word on that decision and it wouldn’t go to the Supreme Court,” says Peter Prinsen, general counsel of The Graham Co.
“It effectively was the law of the land, that’s why it was so problematic. The Superior Court’s decision was catastrophic, from a general contractor’s standpoint,” Prinsen says.
While Prinsen applauded the state Supreme Court’s decision, he found a flaw.
“There’s an opinion in the Supreme Court decision that said subcontractors being uninsured for workers’ compensation is ‘rare,’ but I wouldn’t call it rare,” Prinsen says. “It happens. The results of that can be substantial.”
The Patton case might serve as a reminder for subcontractors of all kinds, even sole proprietorships, that they will need workers’ compensation insurance.
“If you hire someone, you must have workers’ compensation insurance,” says Matthew Masone, a partner with attorneys Severance Burko Spalter & Masone, in New York City. “It is your responsibility even if you have picked up a day labor off the street, just for a day’s work.”