Bus Company Denied Summary Judgment in Sudden Stop Case -- It Fails to Meet Its Burden

Case: Lowhar-Lewis v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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

Date: July 18, 2012

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

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RELATED POSTS:

PLAINTIFF HURT IN FALL ON SHORT-STOPPING BUS; DEFENSE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON LIABILITY DENIED

PASSENGER IN BUS ACCIDENT LOSES SUMMARY JUDGMENT BECAUSE OF "EMERGENCY DOCTRINE"

BUS PASSENGER'S "SUDDEN STOP" ACCIDENT CASE DISMISSED

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Comment: What to do when a bus stops short? Is it to be expected that buses start and stop ans passengers get shaken? What if a bus stops so suddenly that a rider is thrown around and injured? This case addresses the law relating to sudden-stopping buses.

Facts: This accident victim fell when the bus she was riding stopped short. She sued for personal injury. The bus driver gave a deposition where he testified that a car in front of him stopped short at a green light in an intersection. The bus stopped short without hitting the car, which took off.

The bus company asked the court for summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit against it, claiming that the plaintiff experienced the kind of jolt that was normal for a bus.

Now we get into a weirdly technical issue -- to win a short-stopping bus injury case a plaintiff must show that the stop was unusual and violent. But that burden is for trial. And the plaintiff's word, alone, doesn't seem to be enough to carry the day. However, to win summary judgment, a defendant bus company was show that the stop was NOT unusual and violent.

Held: The appeals court agrees with the lower court. The driver's deposition testimony is enough to deny the bus company's motion because it fails to establish that the stop was NOT unusual and violent.

The bus company's attempt to invoke the "emergency doctrine" is unavailing, because the bus is required to keep a safe stopping distance behind vehicles in front of it. There's no help for the bus company where this was not an actual emergency but the kind of thing that just sometimes happens in traffic.

So this case goes to trial, where the plaintiff may lose anyway.

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