PLAINTIFF DENIED SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON LIABILITY IN REAR-END COLLISION CASE WHERE DEFENDANT DRIVER CLAIMS HE WAS CUT-OFF BY ANOTHER VEHICLE

Court: Supreme Court, Queens County, New York

Case: Radha Rodriguez v. Titus Leasing Company, U.S. Limousine Service. Ltd., USA Funerals, Inc. and Oscar A. Portillo, Defendants

Date: Feb. 7, 2012

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

**************************************************

RELATED POSTS:

SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON LIABILITY GRANTED IN AUTO CHAIN COLLISION(Posted by Brooklyn accident lawyer Gary E. Rosenberg on Mar 6, 2012)

PLAINTIFF DENIED SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON LIABILITY AGAINST ILLEGAL U-TURNING DEFENDANT(Posted by Brooklyn accident lawyer Gary E. Rosenberg on Mar 4, 2012)

**************************************************

Comment:

This lower (trial level) court case presents plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. Plaintiff, Radha Rodriguez, claims injury in an automobile accident in 2007.

Her car was rear-ended while stopped in traffic on the Northern State Parkway by a funeral limousine operated by defendant Oscar A. Portillo and leased by defendants USA Funerals Inc., and U.S. Limousine Service, Ltd. By its owner, Titus Leasing Company.

In her affidavit dated November 12, 2011, plaintiff Radha Rodriguez states as follows:

"On Monday, December 17, 2007, at approximately 6:10 p.m., I was involved in a three‑car motor vehicle accident on the Northern State Parkway near Exit 26, in the Town of North Hempstead, County of Nassau, State of New York. Prior to the accident I was driving my 2002 Saturn Vue westbound on the Northern State parkway. The traffic was moving very slowly and I brought my vehicle to a complete stop. There was another vehicle in front of me that was stopped as well. We were fully stopped, in a stationary position, for approximately 15_20 seconds when my vehicle was suddenly rear ended by a funeral limousine. The force of the rear‑end impact propelled my vehicle forward striking the rear of the vehicle in front of me. I did not do anything wrong and have no fault in causing this collision."

The plaintiff contends that the defendant driver was negligent in the operation of his vehicle in striking the plaintiff's vehicle in the rear and that he violated New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 1129(a) by following too closely to plaintiff's vehicle.

The defendant/driver submitted an affidavit claiming that he was cut off by another car that suddenly veered into his lane of travel, causing him to rear-end plaintiff's vehicle.

The question here then becomes if the defense "presented a sufficient non‑negligent explanation as to how and why the rear‑end collision occurred," so as to raise a question of fact as to whether defendant was actually negligent when faced with a possible emergency situation.

The court restates the well-known rule: "that a rear‑end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle creates a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the driver of the rearmost vehicle, requiring the operator of that vehicle to proffer an adequate, non‑negligent explanation for the accident."

Plaintiff satisfied her initial burden as the party asking the court for summary judgment.

"Having made the requisite prima facie showing of entitlement to summary judgment, the burden then shifted to defendant to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether plaintiff was also negligent, and if so, whether her negligence contributed to the happening of the accident."

Court concludes that the defendant/driver's affidavit was sufficient to create an issue of fact as to a possible nonnegligent explanation for the happening of this accident.

Accordingly, the plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability is denied; and this case lumbers forward.