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MTA Cannot Avoid Liability Under Emergency Doctrine (NY)


September 22, 2023 at 5:51:53 PM

In<em> <a href="">Greene v. MTA Bus Co.</a></em> 2023 NY Slip Op 04658, (September 20, 2023) plaintiff brought action against the MTA, and another motorist, when plaintiff sustained injuries caused by the sudden stop of the bus she was riding on.

The facts here appeared clear cut as Plaintiff was riding an MTA bus on Hillside Avenue in Queens. When the bus was pulling away from the pickup stop, the co-defendant made a right turn directly into the path of the bus causing the bus driver to make a sudden stop. At summary judgment, MTA moved under the emergency doctrine, arguing they were faced with sudden and unexpected circumstances not of the driver’s own making, leaving the driver no time for reflection and that the driver is compelled to make a quick decision without weighing any alternative courses of conduct.

Yet, both the lower court and the Second Department denied the MTA’s motion for summary judgment finding the MTA failed to eliminate their driver was not at fault for the accident, and that there were still questions of fact as to whether the driver exercised reasonable care to avoid the accident, or if his actions were contributing to the emergency.

This case highlights the importance introducing the testimony that affirms your client’s “innocence.”  Eliminating potential issues of fact, especially in situations where  there is incentive to leave things open for interpretation, is imperative to get a court to grant summary judgment motions.

Thanks to Chris Palmieri for his assistance with this article.  Should you have any questions, please contact <a href="">Tom Bracken</a>.

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