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Let's Go To The Videotape-Plaintiff's Case Dismissed Because Testimony Doesn't Match The Video Camera Tape (NY)

November 18, 2022

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In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Batista-v.-Metropolitan-Transp.-Auth..pdf">Batista v. Metropolitan Transp. Auth.</a>, 2022 NY Slip Op 06419</em> (1<sup>st</sup> Dept. 2022), plaintiff sued the MTA alleging that he made a left-hand turn in front of a bus, which collided with his rear bumper. Plaintiff testified that the bus was “halfway down the block when he started to make his left-hand turn.”  However, plaintiff’s testimony contradicted the bus driver’s testimony and the video recording which showed the bus driver had the green light and proceeded right when plaintiff’s vehicle made the left turn. An issue of fact arises from these two testimonies. The MTA moved for summary judgment and the trial court denied it.

The First Dept. Appellate Division overturned that decision, dismissing the case, finding that there could be no triable issue of fact because the bus driver’s testimony and video recording (which was properly authenticated) showed that plaintiff’s testimony was flat-out wrong. <em>See</em>, <em>Carthen v. Sherman</em>, 169 A.D.3d 416 (1<sup>st</sup> Dept. 2019). Plaintiff was negligent as a matter of law under VTL 1141, and caused the accident. <em>See,</em> <em>Rohn v Aly</em>, 167 A.D.3d 1054 (2d Dept. 2018); <em>Ciraldo v. County of Westchester</em>, 147 A.D.3d 813 (2d Dept. 2017). Plaintiff’s contention that issues of fact existed due to the bus driver’s comparative negligence was similarly rejected. The bus driver had only seconds to react before impact occurred, and he had a reasonable expectation that plaintiff would follow the rules of the road. There was no clarification by plaintiff as to what the bus driver could have done to avoid impact. Thus, comparative negligence could not be established because plaintiff’s speculative assertions. <em>See</em>, <em>Cardona v Fiorentina</em>, 149A.D.3d 495 (1st Dept 2017).

This case is an interesting decision whereas the evidence clearly showed the accident occurred one way, and the appellate court rejected plaintiff’s false testimony and feigned comparative negligence arguments. Usually, issues of fact can be found in almost any traffic accident case because of the he said/she said fact pattern, and judges tend to leave it to a trial jury, and accordingly, appellate courts usually uphold those decisions for the same reason. However, the First Department reached the correct conclusion in here because the MTA’s testimony was patently correct, and plaintiff’s arguments were speculative and without supporting evidence.

Thanks to Raymond Gonzalez for his contribution to this article.  Should you have any questions, contact <a href="mailto:tbracken@wcmlaw.com">Tom Bracken</a>.

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