Pipinias v. Ferreira, 155 A.D.3d 1073, 65 N.Y.S.3d 533 (App. Div. 2d Dept 2017)

Thinking of passing a slow moving tractor trailer? Hurry up! No, wait!

The court (Kings Supreme) denied the defendants’—Crown Petroleum Transportation, LLC and Rubian Kumar, the owner operator of the tractor-trailer—motion for summary judgment seeking a dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint for personal injuries, finding the defendants negligent.

In support of their appeal of the lower court’s decision, Crown and Kumar relied upon the plaintiff’s affidavit in which she stated the tractor-trailer was moving approximately 10 mph in the right lane; she saw the tractor trailer alongside her vehicle; in order to reach the gas station about three car lengths ahead, she signaled and accelerated; and she had room to get in front of the tractor trailer. Kumar testified that the driver saw the plaintiff’s vehicle when it was approximately 10 to 15 feet in front of it and, despite braking hard to evade the plaintiff’s car, the tractor-trailer continued into the intersection. The defendants averred the tractor-trailer did not strike the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff testified there was a “little bump” when the tractor-trailer struck the rear passenger side of her vehicle as she was accelerating, which caused her to lose control and strike the gas station pump, causing injuries.

The lower court found that the plaintiff was negligent and the sole proximate cause of the accident. The Appellate Division reversed, finding that the plaintiff violated Section 1128(a) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which requires a vehicle to be driven in a single lane. The plaintiff had not first ascertained that changing from the left to the right lane could be done safely. In addition, the Appellate Court found Kumar was not negligent because he took quick evasive action to avoid the plaintiff’s vehicle by braking hard.


Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2018

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