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Garbage Can-not a Cause of Action (NY)

May 11, 2017

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When an accident occurs and someone has an unfortunate injury, must someone else always be responsible? A creative lawyer can theorize a duty that has been breached in almost any scenario.  However, whether they can raise that theory beyond speculation is the issue.  At the end of the day, it depends on what facts can be proven to support the theory.
In <em>Latuso v. Maresca</em>, the plaintiff commenced a personal injury action arising out of a motorcycle accident allegedly caused by an errant garbage can that had blown into the roadway.  When he swerved to avoid it, his motorcycle contacted sand on the roadway causing him to lose control and hit a tree on the defendants’ property.  Seeking a culpable party, the plaintiff concluded that the defendants had to be negligent for placing their garbage can on a berm near the roadway in windy conditions.
The defendants countered that they had not created nor did they have notice of the condition of which the plaintiff complained.   While the defendants did not persuade the motion judge who denied summary judgment, the Second Department was swayed and reversed finding that there was no triable fact citing the principle that “mere conjecture, suspicion or speculation is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
Thanks to Lauren Tarangelo for her contribution.
For more information, contact Denise Fontana Ricci at <a href=""></a>.


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