Police Officer Injured in Fall From Truck Allowed to Sue NYPD for Violation Of Statute

Case: Gammons v. NYC

Court: Appellate Division, Second Department

Date: July 17, 2013

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

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Facts: Plaintiff was a police officer, assigned to "barrier truck detail." With other officers, she rode a flatbed truck around the city, picking up and loading wooden sawhorse-type barriers and bringing them where needed. She was knocked off the truck when her fellow officer accidentally shoved a barrier into her.

The truck she was working had no rear closure. Apparently, the NYPD had newer trucks which were longer and had a rear door or hatch to close.

The issue here is whether this officer can sue her employer, the NYPD, under what's known as "the firefighter rule" per New York State Municipal Law Section 205‑e. The rule permits police or firefighters to recover for line of duty injury against their employer or a fellow officer that results from their violation of a rule or regulation.

Defendant moves for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint, arguing that plaintiff can't sue because the section of the law that plaintiff is relying on to enable Municipal Law Section 205-e, providing for protection from hazards, doesn't apply here. Plaintiff argues that the truck presented a "recognized hazard," permitting her to sue under the Municipal Law.

Held: Defendants violated a regulation that required municipal employers to protect their employees from recognized hazards likely to cause injury. Section 205‑e of the Municipal Law does not stand alone and must be based on a violation of a separate legal requirement -- which has been met here. The defense summary judgment motion is denied.

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