It is possible to have the court decide who was to blame for a car accident (liability) before trial. Whoever files the motion for summary judgment before trial asking the court to decide the liability issue before trial has the burden of demonstrating negligent conduct. Then the other party must offer admissable evidence that demonstrates there is a question of fact for a trial jury regarding whether the moving party was negligent. In the following case, the Second Department Appeals Court determined that the plaintiff failed to offer evidence that the defendant was negligent and upheld the lower court's decision to grant defendant's motion to dismiss the case.
Yoon v Chen
Decided on April 22, 2015
Appellate Division, Second Department
DECISION & ORDER
In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the plaintiffs appeal from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Butler, J.), entered April 14, 2014, which granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.
ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with costs.
The plaintiff Hyo Jin Yoon was a passenger in a vehicle operated by the plaintiff Keumsoon Shin (hereinafter the plaintiff driver), when it collided with a vehicle operated by the defendant Guang Chen (hereinafter the defendant driver) and owned by the defendant Zhijie Chen at an intersection which was governed by a traffic light. The two vehicles were traveling in opposite directions, and the collision occurred as the plaintiffs' vehicle attempted to make a left turn. The plaintiffs commenced this action against the defendants, alleging that the plaintiff driver never saw the defendants' vehicle prior to the impact. The defendants moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, contending that the plaintiff's failure to yield the right-of-way was the sole proximate cause of the accident. The Supreme Court granted the motion. We affirm.
The defendants established their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that the plaintiff driver violated Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1141 when she made a left turn directly into the path of the defendants' vehicle, and that this violation was the sole proximate cause of the accident. The plaintiff driver was negligent in failing to see what there was to be seen, and in attempting to make a left turn when it was hazardous to do so (see Simeone v Cianciolo, 118 AD3d 864, 865; Ismail v Burnbury, 118 AD3d 756, 757; Gabler v Marly Bldg. Supply Corp., 27 AD3d 519, 520). Additionally, since the defendant driver had the right-of-way, he was entitled to anticipate that the plaintiff driver would obey traffic laws which required her to yield (see Ismail v Burnbury, 118 AD3d at 757; Moreno v Gomez, 58 AD3d 611, 612; Moreback v Mesquita, 17 AD3d 420, 421). In opposition, the plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendant driver was comparatively at fault in the operation of his vehicle (see Simeone v Cianciolo, 118 AD3d at 865; Maloney v Niewender, 27 AD3d 426, 426-427).
Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.
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