Outstanding Discovery Not Enough To Stop A Partial Summary Judgment Finding (NY)
In Mallory v. City of New York , et al., the Supreme Court, New York County, found that outstanding discovery is not a barrier to partial summary judgment.
In Mallory, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit seeking damages for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on liability, arguing that the defendants could not provide a non-negligent explanation as to why the collision occurred, nor offer a theory of liability to support a finding that plaintiff was in any way responsible for the accident.
In opposition, the defendants argued that summary judgment was premature since only plaintiff was deposed, and an issue of fact still existed regarding her culpability as a passenger. Defendants argued that her testimony created an issue of fact as to whether plaintiff distracted the driver and therefore should preclude plaintiff from obtaining partial summary judgment.
The Honorable Dakota Ramseur exploited two flaws with the defendants’ arguments. First, the Court noted that plaintiff did not bear the double burden of establishing a prima face case of defendants’ liability and the absence of their own comparative fault. Secondly, Judge Ramseur noted that outstanding discovery is not a barrier to partial summary judgment where the outstanding discovery would only bear on an issue irrelevant to plaintiff’s liability.
As such, the plaintiff was granted partial summary judgment as to liability, and the action will continue on the issue of damages.
This decision builds on the recent trend in New York that mere hope that evidence may be uncovered during the discovery process is not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.
Thank you to Irving Fayman for his contribution to this post. Please contact Heather Aquino with any questions.