Slip-and-Fall Case Dismissed by Trial Judge after 50-50 Jury Verdict

Case: Musante v. Dept of Education of City of N.Y.

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

Date: 7/18/12

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

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Comment: Strange to say, but sometimes an aggressive defendant that applies to the court for early summary judgment and dismissal of a case and wins performs a type of "mercy killing." In other words, if my plaintiff's case lacks merit, isn't it better to have it dismissed early and save both plaintiff and defendant expense and time and effort and the judge, time and effort?

The City of New York gets sued very frequently. It simply lacks the resources to aggressively chase away every case of questionable merit at an early stage. Today's decision shows a case gone to completion of trial and then dismissed. A huge waste for all involved.

Facts: Plaintiff slipped-and-fell in a wet school hallway. A jury held the parties 50-50 at fault. So if plaintiff's damages (injuries) were found to be worth $1.00, plaintiff would get 50 cents.

One would think a jury verdict is final, but that's not really the case.

After the verdict came in, the City asked the trial court to throw out the jury's verdict -- not an easy relief to get. To throw out a jury's verdict, the judge has to find that the jury really blew it. Which this judge so holds; that there was no valid line of reasoning to show that the school had notice of the dangerous, slippery floor.

Held: The appeals Court agrees with the lower Court judge that the jury verdict was wrong and this case stays dismissed. Accident case over.

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