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This Isn’t Cash Cab (NY)

November 1, 2019

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In <em>Roazzi v. What’s Next Taxi, Inc</em>., the New York County Supreme Court re-emphasized that a plaintiff’s purely conclusory assertion that an injury was causally related to an accident is legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion based on threshold.  Plaintiff sued after his vehicle was struck by a taxicab on the FDR, alleging <sub>­</sub>injuries to his cervical spine, lumbar spine, and meniscus tears.

Defendants moved for summary judgment under Insurance Law § 5102(d), on the grounds that plaintiff had not met the “serious injury” threshold because his injuries stemmed from degenerative spine conditions, as well as prior and subsequent motor vehicle accidents.

Plaintiff’s medical records, deposition testimony, and independent medical examinations established that plaintiff had degenerative conditions in both his cervical spine and leg.  In opposition to defendants’ motions, plaintiff submitted a report of his doctor opining that his conditions were causally related to the subject accident, but completely failed to even address the degenerative conditions in the plaintiff’s cervical spine and leg.  The doctor did, however, state that the plaintiff’s degenerative lumbar spine condition was exacerbated by the subject accident.

The Supreme Court followed the precedent set by the Court of Appeals in <em>Rosa v. DelaCruz</em> (2018),  which states that where a plaintiff’s doctor opines that injuries are causally related to an accident, but does not acknowledge or attempt to explain how the claimed injuries affected preexisting or degenerative conditions, this fails to raise a triable issue of fact sufficient to establish a “serious injury” as defined in the Insurance Law §§ 5102 and 4104.  Accordingly, defendants’ motions were granted as to the cervical spine and leg injuries, and the Court found that plaintiff Roazzi had only established a “serious injury” pursuant to the Insurance Law with regard to his lumbar spine.

Thank you to Shira Straus for her contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="">Colleen E. Hayes</a> with any questions.


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