JURY VERDICT OF $175,000 AGAINST N.Y.C. TRANSIT AUTHORITY IN MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT CASE UPHELD

Court: Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York

Case: Lauren Liounis v. New York City Transit Authority

Date: Feb. 7, 2012

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Bronx and Queens;Queens injury attorney)

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Comment: This decision arises out of the trial of a motor vehicle accident case. The accident victim sued the New York City Transit Authority and its driver, Moussa Zlita, for personal injury suffered in that accident. From this decision, we can't tell whether the injured plaintiff was hurt by a bus or other type of vehicle.

The jury came back with a verdict finding for the plaintiff on the issue of liability, 100% against the defendants; meaning that the accident was entirely the fault of the Transit Authority's driver. The Transit Authority is held liable (responsible) as the driver's employer, under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior.

The jury also determined -- in the second part or damages phase of the trial -- that the accident victim had, yes, suffered a "serious injury," as required by New York State's No-Fault law. This finding is required for a motor vehicle accident victim to be entitled to recover money damages at trial.

The defense appeals both the liability finding against them (from the first part of the trial), and the damages verdict that held that plaintiff had suffered a "serious injury," and awarding him money damages in the amount of $175,000 (from the second part of the trial).

The appeals court sustained both the jury's verdicts. It pointed out that "there was a rational process by which the jury could" reach its conclusions. To toss out a jury verdict, the defense has the burden of showing that there is no rational process by which the jury could find as it did.

Also, a jury verdict can't be disregarded as "against the weight of the evidence" unless the verdict could not have been reached by a fair interpretation of the evidence.

In this case there were "dueling experts" who disagreed as to the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries, and the jury, as the decider of facts, is entitled to make up it own mind. In this case, a "fair interpretation of the evidence" supported the result.

The verdict remains. Plaintiff wins and the defense loses.

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