Accident Victim Loses Summary Judgment Against Left Turning Car; Court Doesn't Give a Clue Why

Case: Reyes v. Marchese

Date: June 20, 2012

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

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





Facts: Plaintiff car accident victim was driving straight. Allegedly, the defendant's automobile made a left turn in front of her or into her.

Under Section 1141 of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law a left-turning vehicle must yield the right-of-way to an oncoming vehicle. Violation of this law by a left-turning driver leading to an accident can give summary judgment -- a win on paper -- on the issue of liability to the straight-driving car.

Plaintiff in this case tried to win liability on this point; she claimed the left-turning car violated Section 1141 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law and thus she, the accident victim, should get an automatic win (on paper) on the issue of liability.

Not so fast.

The standard defense to this claim is that the straight-driving, non-turning car was speeding. We don'=t know from the Court's opinion if this is what happened here. However, the appeals court mentions that, by way of evidence, that plaintiff submitted the transcript of her deposition and an excerpt of a surveillance video.

Getting a surveillance video is pretty cool, and shows that the accident victim's attorneys seem to have done a thorough job.

Held: Summary judgment denied to plaintiff. Case proceeds on th issue of liability.

So why did the plaintiff lose?

The Court gives not a clue in its opinion, except to say that the plaintiff failed to meet HER burden of proof (establish her prima facie case) as she must, as the party requesting summary judgment.

Comment: So we have a very interesting case, with not a clue as to why it was decided the way it was decided by the appeals court.

This is a bunch of crap. An appeals case is supposed to lend guidance to others who come later, especially since our legal system is based on "precedent" or the notion that what a court decided shapes the formation of the legal principles that guide and govern us in future cases.

All that was necessary here would be a line or two written into the court's decision as to HOW or WHY the accident victim fell short in her proofs.

This appeals court didn't do its job here. Plain and simple.