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Video Surveillance Leaves Questions For The Jury (NY)

May 27, 2022

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<p style="text-align: justify;">Even though video surveillance showed the plaintiff switching lanes in front of defendant’s bus at the same time as defendant, the Appellate Division still found there to be several issues of fact in a recent New York case. In <em><a href="">Fergile v. Payne</a>, </em>plaintiff was riding a motor scooter in the right lane of traffic. Defendant bus driver was also traveling in the right lane, behind plaintiff. As the plaintiff approached an intersection he moved into the left lane. The bus also moved into the left lane and stuck the rear of the plaintiff’s motor scooter.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In New York, the “emergency doctrine” provides that when an actor is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance which leaves little time for deliberation, the actor may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context. The Supreme Court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint based on this doctrine.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed and held that despite the defendant bus driver claiming she did not see the plaintiff until seconds before the incident, there were still issues of material fact sufficient to overcome the motion, including whether the defendant’s own actions caused the emergency, and her response to the emergency.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case reveals that even when there is surveillance video clearly showing that a driver only had a split second to make a decision, summary judgment may not be granted easily based on the emergency doctrine. The actions leading up to the emergency as well as the party’s response will be weighed thoroughly when evaluating the motion.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Jennifer Tuz for her contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.</p>

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