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Outstanding Discovery Not Enough To Stop A Partial Summary Judgment Finding (NY)

September 17, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Mallory-v.-City-of-NY.pdf">Mallory v. City of New York </a>, et al</em>., the Supreme Court, New York County, found that outstanding discovery is not a barrier to partial summary judgment.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em>Mallory</em>, 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.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">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.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">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.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">As such, the plaintiff was granted partial summary judgment as to liability, and the action will continue on the issue of damages.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">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.</p>
Thank you to Irving Fayman for his contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="mailto:Haquino@wcmlaw.com">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.

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