Court untangles liability in four-car collision case; summary judgment granted to operator of car number three

Gargiulo-Sejfijaj v. Garbo Lobster; Aquino v. Kang, Index No. 281/2015 (Sup.Ct. Putnam Cty. 2017)

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Four vehicles collided end-to-end on the Whitestone Bridge, and in the resulting personal injury actions, the Court imposed liability on the second and the last vehicle in a set of motions for summary judgment.

The accident occurred when the first in the line (vehicle number one) stopped unexpectedly. Vehicle two collided with vehicle number one. Vehicle three had stopped behind vehicle number two with no contact. However, while stopped it was rear-ended by vehicle number four, a tractor trailer, pushing it into the rear of vehicle number 2.

The case between operators of vehicles three and four was straightforward, and the operator of vehicle four (the last in line) as a defendant in that action did not oppose plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.

The other case, brought by the operator of vehicle number one against operators of all the other vehicles presented the fundamental question: among the operators of the four vehicles, who is at fault for the injuries to the driver of vehicle number one?

The operators of vehicles three and four showed that there was no causal connection between what happened between them, and the rear end collision ahead of them between vehicles one and two. They showed this by demonstrating there was evidence of only one impact between the first two cars. It was clear that vehicle one stopped abruptly and vehicle two could not avoid a rear-end collision.

Purported issues of fact raised by supposedly inconsistent testimony were of no avail. The testimony of the operator of vehicle two clearly indicated that that car was rear ended only after the collision between the first two cars and that contact did not cause him to again strike vehicle one. This testimony was also consistent with the police report.

AGF&J associate Jay S. Gunsher represented the vehicle three defendants and briefed the motion that was argued by AGF&J partner Dennis J. Monaco.


Jay S. Gunsher