Western District of Virginia narrowly construes Virginia’s anti-indemnification statute
Rental companies may now rest easier in indemnity cases in Virginia. In RSC Equipment Rental v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., the Western District of Virginia denied a general contractor’s motion to dismiss where the contractor sought to avoid indemnifying a forklift supplier by invalidating its indemnity clause. Under Va. Code § 11-4.1, a party in a contract “relating to construction” cannot require indemnity against injuries or damages caused solely by its own negligence. The general contractor argued that the forklift supplier’s rental agreement did exactly that, rendering its entire indemnity clause void. Narrowly interpreting the statute, the federal court rejected the argument, holding that a forklift rental agreement is not a contract “relating to construction,” and therefore § 11-4.1 does not apply.