Slowley v Chestnut
Court Discusses the Motion for Summary Judgment in Relation to the Serious Injuries Sustained by the Plaintiff
The plaintiff alleged that he suffered injuries as a result of an accident that occurred on January 1, 2005 when the first defendant collided into the plaintiff. The plaintiff bought an action for personal injuries sustained as a result of the accident against the driver of the motor car, who was the first defendant and the owner, who was the second defendant. The plaintiff later sought partial summary judgment pursuant to § 3212 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) on the issue of liability. The defendants, in opposition argued that the accident occurred because he was going around a double parked vehicle that was blocking his lane of traffic. The first defendant further states that plaintiff was not being an attentive road user as the he said he only saw the first defendant for a split second. The defendant filed a cross motion for summary judgment on the ground the plaintiff did not sustain serious injury within the definition of § 5102 (d) and 5104 of the New York Insurance Law. The Second defendant also sought dismissal of the claim for punitive damages. DUI was not charged.
The defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the ground that there was no serious injury was determined with the assistance of the use of expert witnesses by both parties. Serious injury according to § 5102 (d) of the New York Insurance Law means injury resulting in death, loss of a fetus, permanent loss of the use of an organ, significant limitation in the use of a body organ, fracture, significant disfigurement or any other similar loss which interferes with a person’s daily activities. The defendants submitted medical reports for examinations done in April, 2005 which did not show that the plaintiff suffered serious injury with the meaning of § 5102 (d) of the New York Insurance Law. However, the plaintiff submitted medical reports of medical practitioners who were treating him along with an orthopedic surgeon which affirmed that plaintiff suffered serious injuries to his lumbar and cervical spine, with pain radiating to his lower extremities that constituted permanent loss of use of a body organ or an impairment that was not permanent which interfered substantially with his daily activities. As a result, the defendants could not show that there was an entitlement to summary judgment. The conflicting evidence adduced by the plaintiff and defendants showed that there were triable issues as nature and extent of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. DWAI was not an issue.
The Second defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim for punitive damage was granted by the court. It is trite law that the owner of the vehicle will be vicariously liable for damages alleged as a result of the collision. The first defendant was driving while intoxicated as such punitive damages was sought to punish the driver. Therefore, the plaintiff could not seek punitive damage from the second defendant as the company would only be liable for injuries that the plaintiff suffered as a result of the accident. Additionally, the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment for partial liability was granted insofar that there would be a trial for an assessment of damages.
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