These Guys Don't Deserve the Title "NY's Finest"

It's Not a Bird Or a Plane--But It Does Present an Issue of Fact

Apparently, my rationale in this post made sense after all.  I hereby revoke my humble apology.

I've been officially vindicated by the Fourth Department's recent decision in Sanly v. Nowak, 2006 NY Slip Op 03221, which was decided last Friday.  In this case, the plaintiff sought damages for injuries sustained when the defendant's vehicle skidded out of control and crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic in which the plaintiff was traveling.  The Court concluded that although the emergency doctrine was inapplicable, there was a triable issue of fact.  The Court stated that

(The defendant's conduct) is only prima facie evidence of negligence ...; it does not mandate a finding of negligence.  Such evidence[,] together with the explanation given by [defendant], presents factual questions for determination by the jury...(T)here is a triable issue of fact whether defendant's admitted violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1120 (a) may be excused on the ground that defendant's conduct was reasonable under the circumstances.  (Internal citations and quotations omitted.)

So, it would seem that even when the emergency doctrine is inapplicable, it is still within the province of the jury to determine whether a defendant's conduct in crossing into oncoming traffic is reasonable under the circumstances.

I'm not sure how this holding squares with the Court's holding in Kizis v. Nehring, 2006 NY Slip Op 01952, the case that I discussed in the post mentioned above.  The only difference that I can see is that Sanly addressed a pre-trial motion while Kizis addressed a post-trial verdict. 

Nevertheless, issues of fact are for the jury to determine, and I fail to see why the specific testimony elicited in Kizis was so clear cut so as to remove that determination from the jury's consideration.

Any thoughts?  I'm truly baffled...


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