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Plaintiff on Tracks an Intervening and Superseding Cause of Accident (NY)

March 3, 2017

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Generally, a plaintiff's comparative fault serves to reduce a defendant's liability and does not serve as a basis for seek summary judgment.  But there are certain acts taken by a plaintiff that are deemed so dangerous as to eliminate any potential liability of a defendant.
That was the issue litigated in <a href="https://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_01403.htm"><em>Weimar v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, et. al.,</em> </a>where the plaintiff was serious injured when she was struck by a Metro North train.
The defendants submitted evidence demonstrating that they were not negligent and that the accident was unavoidable as the plaintiff's conduct constituted an "intervening and superseding cause" which absolved the defendants of liability. Plaintiff circumvented various barriers to access an elevated track area, proceeded to walk alongside the track area, and then attempted to cross a train bridge that had limited clearance and no protective railings or fencing. In doing so, she was struck by a train and had no access to escape.
Although plaintiff argued that there were questions of fact and thus summary judgment was not appropriate, the Appellate Court upheld the lower court’s decision in granting summary judgment. The Court held plaintiff’s actions were reckless and extraordinary, and constituted an intervening and superseding event and severed any causal nexus between the accident and any alleged negligence on the part of the defendants.
Thanks to Paul Vitale for his contribution to this post and please write to <a href="mailto: mbono@wcmlaw.com">Mike Bono </a>for more information.

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