top of page


Trying to Anticipate a Plaintiff’s Opposition to Your Summary Judgment Motion

September 9, 2016

Share to:

At the summary judgment stage of motor vehicle cases, defendants bear the burden of establishing that he or she was not at fault in the happening of the accident.  This can often prove quite difficult since the plaintiff need only raise a single factual issue in opposition to defeat the summary judgment motion.
In <a href=""><em>Hurst v. Belomme</em></a>, plaintiff was attempting to make a left turn from the southbound lane of travel when it was struck by the defendant’s vehicle, which was traveling in the northbound lane.  In moving for summary judgment, defendant argued that he was not negligent and that the plaintiff’s negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident.  The Court denied the motion reasoning that the plaintiff was able to raise triable issues of fact as to whether the defendant kept a proper lookout and exercised reasonable care to avoid a collision with the plaintiff’s car that was already in the intersection.  The Court also noted that there was an issue of fact as to whether the defendant violated the Vehicle and Traffic Law in failing to display lighted headlights at the time of the accident.
Defense counsel should be aware that a plaintiff can defeat a summary judgment motion by raising a single factual issue that needs to be decided by a jury. Factual issues can be as simple as whether a defendant “exercised reasonable care.”  In moving for summary judgment in a motor vehicle case, defendants should always consider how a plaintiff may try and raise an issue of fact.  More often than not, it is impossible to have an “airtight” summary judgment argument, but the closer a defendant can get, the better the chances that they will get out of the case.
Thanks to Jeremy Seeman for his contribution to this post.


bottom of page