Feroleto Law, Buffalo NY

FOURTH DEPARTMENT UPHOLDS DENAIL OF DEFENDANT’S SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION FOR REAR-END CRASH

In Lyins v. Zieman, May 2013,  the Fourth Department upheld the lower Court’s ruling denying defendant’s motion for summary judgment regarding a rear-end crash. The defendant claimed that he should be let out of the case as he proved that his brakes failed.  The Court held that the defendant failed to establish as a matter of law that the accident was the result of unanticipated brake failure.  The Court held:

“Where, as here, .. . defendant[] intend[s] ‘to lay the blame for the accident on brake failure, it [is] incumbent upon [him] to show that the problem with the brakes was unanticipated, and that [he] had exercised reasonable care to keep them in good working order’ ” (Suitor v Boivin, 219 AD2d 799, 800; see Hubert v Tripaldi, 307 AD2d 692, 694; Schuster v Amboy Bus Co., 267 AD2d 448, 448-449). Defendant’s own deposition testimony suggested that he refused a recent recommendation to have his brake lines fully replaced. Moreover, there are issues of fact whether the allegedly faulty brake repair performed two months before the accident was the sole proximate cause of the accident, as contended by defendant.”

Further, The Court held that “The existence of an emergency and the reasonableness of a driver’s response thereto generally constitute issues of fact” (Dalton v Lucas, 96 AD3d 1648,1649;see Patterson v Central N.Y. Regional Transp. Auth. [CNYRTA], 94AD3d 1565, 1566,lv denied 19 NY3d 815; Williams v City of New York,88 AD3d 989, 990). Therefore even if the defendant could prove he encountered an emergency situation,  there was still an issue of fact as to whether he acted reasonably to the emergency.