Indemnitor Owes Indemnity Even Where Indemnitee is Actively Negligent, California Court Holds

June 15, 2017
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

Indemnity provisions are one of the most fought over provisions in design and construction contracts. But while parties generally understand the intent behind indemnity provisions — that one party (the “indemnitor”) agrees to indemnify (and often defend as well) another party (the “indemnitee”) from and against claims that may arise on a project — few understand how they are actually applied.

In a recent Court of Appeals decision, Oltmans Construction Company v. Bayside Interiors, Inc. (March 30, 2017), Case No. A147313, the California Court of Appeals for the First District examined an indemnity provision and its “except to the extent of” provision whereby a subcontractor agreed to indemnify (and defend) a general contractor from claims arising on a project “except to the extent of” the general contractor’s active negligence or willful misconduct and whether such language either: (1) bars a general contractor from seeking indemnity where the general contractor was actively negligent; or (2) simply bars a general contractor from seeking indemnity where the general contractor was actively and solely negligent, thereby, requiring a subcontractor to indemnify the general contractor where the negligence of another party may have also contributed to the injury or damage.

Mr. Murai may be contacted at


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