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This is an action to recover damages for serious personal injuries allegedly sustained by plaintiff as a result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on Route 109 at or near the overpass of the Southern State Parkway, County of Suffolk, New York on March 9, 2005. Plaintiff claims in his complaint that he sustained serious permanent injuries as defined in Section 5102 (d) of the Insurance Law and economic loss greater than basic economic loss, as defined in Section 5102 (a) of the Insurance Law. A Lawyer said that, defendants now move for an order pursuant to CPLR 3212 granting them summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the grounds that plaintiff did not sustain a “serious injury” as defined in Insurance Law § 5102 (d). Plaintiff cross moves for partial summary judgment on liability grounds and for an inquest as to the assessment of damages. Plaintiff opposes defendants’ motion, and defendants have filed a reply.

A source said that, in support of this motion defendants submit, the pleadings; the plaintiff’s verified bill of particulars; plaintiff’s Hospital emergency department records, including x-ray reports of plaintiff’s cervical and thoracic spine; the affirmed report of defendant’s examining neurologist,; the affirmed report of defendant’s examining radiologist,; the affirmed report of defendant’s examining orthopedist,; plaintiff’s employment verification records dated March 1, 2006; and plaintiff’s deposition testimony.

A Spine Injury Lawyer said that, plaintiff claims in his verified bill of particulars that he sustained, among other things, disc bulges of the cervical spine injury and ventral cord abutment; a limited range of motion of the cervical spine injury; weakness in the upper extremities; and lumbar radicular dysfunction. Plaintiff also claims that he sustained scarring, anxiety and mental suffering. Additionally, plaintiff claims that he was totally disabled for about three weeks and that he remains partially disabled to date. Lastly, plaintiff claims that he sustained a serious injury in the categories of a permanent loss of use, a permanent consequential limitation, a significant limitation and a non-permanent injury.

Plaintiff’s Hospital emergency department records for treatment rendered on the day of the accident show that he complained of pain in his neck and upper back. X-rays of plaintiff’s cervical and thoracic spine performed at the hospital that day show no signs of fracture, dislocation, significant subluxation, or soft tissue abnormalities. The hospital radiologist opined that x-rays of plaintiffs thoracic spine taken that day showed mild degenerative changes and minimal biconcave scoliosis of the lower-thoracic-upper lumbar spine. Based on these findings, the attending physician diagnosed plaintiff with neck/back pain, but also found that there were no injuries to his head, shoulder, arm or leg. In his report dated August 30, 2006, the neurologist doctor states that he performed an independent neurological examination of plaintiff, and his findings include a motor examination that was “5/5” in all extremities with normal tone; DTR’s that were “2 +” and symmetrical; an intact sensory examination; and a normal gait. The doctor opined that plaintiff had sustained sprains of the cervical and thoracic spine injury, but that there were no objective findings to indicate a neurological disability. He also concluded that plaintiff had a pre-existing history of a degenerative condition of the spine. In his report dated October 23, 2006, the orthopedic doctor states that he performed an independent orthopedic examination of plaintiff on that date, and his findings include no muscle atrophy; a negative straight leg raising test; and motor strength that was “5/5.” His testing also showed a normal range of motion of the cervical spine, thoracic spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands as well as no tenderness, heat, swelling, erythema or effusion of the upper or lower extremities. Additionally, he noted that plaintiff’s medical history included a prior neck and back injury. He opined that plaintiff had sustained sprains on the cervical and lumbar spine which exacerbated pre-existing injuries.

A Suffolk Spine Injury Lawyer said that, plaintiff Employment Verification records show that he was employed continuously with the from April 20, 1998 until the date of the verification, March 1, 2006. These records also show that plaintiff was paid in full from an LIRR sick bank from March 11, 2005 through to March 15, 2005, and from March 21, 2005 through to March 31, 2005, and that he worked on March 16 and April 1, 2005. Plaintiff testified that he was employed on a full-time basis as a plumber at the time of the accident. His duties included maintaining the plumbing systems at different stations and outlying buildings. He went to work the Friday after the accident, but he was sent home after a few hours. In total, he missed approximately three weeks of work as a result of his personal injuries. Upon his return, he performed the same duties as before, except that he was unable to lift heavy equipment or materials. He also has difficulty gardening and engaging in various sporting activities such as waterskiing. In addition, he restricts himself to a 40-hour week and has turned down available overtime since the accident. Plaintiff further testified that he was injured in a prior motor vehicle accident about 20 to 25 years ago, at which time he received some chiropractic treatment to his back.

The issue in this case is whether plaintiff sustained serious injury as defined under the Insurance Law.

Insurance Law § 5102 (d) defines “serious injury” as “a personal injury which results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.”
The Court said that, in order to recover under the “permanent loss of use” category, plaintiff must demonstrate a total loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system. To prove the extent or degree of physical limitation with respect to the “permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member” or a “significant limitation of use of a body function or system” categories, either a specific percentage of the loss of range of motion must be ascribed or there must be a sufficient description of the “qualitative nature” of plaintiff’s limitations, with an objective basis, correlating plaintiff’s limitations to the normal function, purpose and use of the body part. A minor, mild or slight limitation of use is considered insignificant within the meaning of the statute.

It is for the Court to determine in the first instance whether a prima facie showing of “serious injury” has been made out. The initial burden is on the defendant “to present evidence, in competent form, showing that the plaintiff has no cause of action”. Once defendant has met the burden, plaintiff must then, by competent proof, establish a prima facie case that such serious injury exists. Such proof, in order to be in a competent or admissible form, shall consist of affidavits or affirmations. The proof must be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, here, the plaintiff.

By their submissions, the Court held that the defendants made a prima facie showing that plaintiff did not sustain a serious injury. Defendants’ examining orthopedist found, upon a recent examination, that plaintiff had a normal range of motion of the upper extremities with no atrophy. Similarly, defendants’ examining neurologist, round, upon a recent examination, that plaintiff had normal range of motion of the cervical and lumbar spine, with no paravertebral tenderness or spasm. Furthermore, defendants’ examining radiologist opined, based upon his review of plaintiff’s MRI studies, that plaintiff had a multilevel preexisting degenerative condition of the cervical spine, but that there was no evidence of any causally related injuries. Defendants remaining evidence, including plaintiff’s deposition testimony, also supports a finding that he did not sustain a serious injury. As defendants have met his burden as to all categories of serious injury alleged by plaintiff, the Court turns to plaintiff’s proffer.

In opposition to this motion, plaintiff submits, among other things, the unaffirmed report of plaintiff’s treating radiologist; and the affirmed report of plaintiffs treating osteopath. Initially, the unsworn report of the doctor that was discussed in detail by defendant’s examining orthopedist has been considered as it is admissible. In his report, the doctor states that he performed MRI studies of plaintiff’s cervical spine, and his findings include straightening of cervical lordosis; diffuse disc dehydration; and posterior disc bulges. While he observed a ventral cord abutment at C-4/5 through C-6/7, he also noted that there were no significant protrusions into the neural canal, recesses or foramina. He opined that these studies showed no focal prevertebral or posterior paraspinal abnormal masses.

The Court held that, plaintiff has provided insufficient medical proof to raise an issue of fact that he sustained a serious injury under the no-fault. Initially, it is noted that plaintiff failed to submit any medical proof addressing his prior neck/back injuries as well as his condition relative to thereto. In this regard, the doctor failed to indicate awareness that plaintiff had previously injured his neck/back, therefore, any conclusion on his part that plaintiff’s claimed injuries were causally related to the subject incident was mere speculation. The doctor also failed to adequately address the preexisting degenerative condition of plaintiff’s cervical spine as diagnosed by his own treating radiologist only two months after the accident, as he did not provide a sufficient foundation or objective medical basis supporting the conclusion which he reached, namely, that the alleged conditions were causally related to or exacerbated by the accident. Further, while the doctor records plaintiffs complaints of pain, he has failed to present medical proof that was contemporaneous with the accident showing any initial range of motion restrictions for the affected body parts. Additionally, the report of the doctor tends to show that plaintiffs injuries, which consisted of a cervical and thoracic sprains/strains and myofascial derangements, were mild, minor or slight. In any event, the doctor has not adequately explained the approximate 14-month gap in treatment between the conclusion of plaintiffs last exam on March 30, 2006 and his most recent examination of plaintiff in May 3, 2007, shortly after the filing of defendants’ motion. Thus, plaintiff’s unexplained gap in medical treatment was in essence, a cessation of treatment that is not addressed by competent proof. Additionally, the proof submitted by the plaintiff is insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact.

Moreover, since there is no evidence in the record demonstrating that plaintiff’s alleged economic loss exceeded the statutory amount of basic economic loss, his claim in this regard must be dismissed. Accordingly, the Court held that this motion for summary judgment is granted and plaintiff’s cross motion is denied as moot.
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This action is for personal injuries alleged to have occurred as a result of a motor vehicle accidentinvolving vehicles driven by plaintiff, , and defendant, , on February 19, 2002, at the intersection of Deepdale Drive and New York Avenue, Town of Huntington, New York. A Suffolk reporter said that, plaintiff served a summons and complaint on defendant. Thereafter, defendant served a third-party summons and complaint on third-party defendant. Within the third-party complaint, defendant alleged that the traffic light at the subject intersection was malfunctioning and inoperable at the time of the car accident.

A doctor said that, by order dated April 1, 2005, the third-party defendant was granted summary judgment dismissing the third-party complaint and all cross-claims against it. Within the aforementioned Order, the Court noted that during the discovery process, it was revealed that the town, not the County of Suffolk, “owned operated and controlled” the traffic signal at the subject intersection. A Lawyer said that, by Order dated March 23, 2007, this Court granted the summary judgment motions of second third-party defendant, and third-party defendant, on the grounds that there was no issue of material fact regarding the liability of those defendants. Defendant now moves for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff has not met the serious injury threshold as set forth in Insurance Law § 5102(d). In support thereof, defendant has submitted, among other things, the deposition transcript of plaintiff, and reports from two doctors who conducted independent medical examinations of plaintiff.

A Lawyer said that, plaintiff served a verified bill of particulars, sworn to on December 11, 2003, which alleged that she suffered the following injuries as a result of the accident: sprain and contusion of left hip; pain in left hip; pain in left wrist; and injuries to the cervical spine, including spinal nerve root compression and bulging discs. Each injury, except for superficial ones, was alleged to be permanent and/or long lasting, and caused diminution of use and motion of the neck and back. Plaintiff appeared for a deposition, and was thereafter physically examined, on or about October 25, 2006, by an orthopedist, and a neurologist, both of whom were designated by defendant. After conducting objective tests on plaintiff, the doctors found, as indicated by their sworn reports, that plaintiff had no orthopedic impairment and no neurologic injury. The orthopedist found that plaintiff may perform the daily activities of living, without restriction, and the neurologist found no permanency or disability as a result of the subject accident. Based upon these findings, a source said that defendant argues that plaintiff has not satisfied the “serious injury” threshold, as set forth in Insurance Law § 5102(d). Defendant contends that plaintiff’s alleged soft tissue spinal injuries do not constitute a serious injury.

The issue in this case is whether plaintiff sustained serious injury as defined under the Insurance Law.

The Court held that, New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law precludes recovery for any “noneconomic loss, except in the case of serious injury, or for basic economic loss” arising out of the negligent use or operation of a motor vehicle. As recognized by the Court of Appeals, the “legislative intent underlying the No-Fault Law was to weed out frivolous claims and limit recovery to significant injuries”. The Legislature also intended that the issue of whether a plaintiff sustained a “serious injury” could be determined by the courts as a matter of law on a motion for summary judgment.

The Court cited the provisions of the Insurance Law § 5102(d) defines “serious injury” as “a personal injury which results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment”.

To establish a permanent consequential limitation or a significant limitation of use, the medical evidence submitted by a plaintiff must include objective, quantitative evidence with respect to diminished range of motion or a qualitative assessment, based on objective findings, comparing the plaintiff’s present limitations to the normal function, purpose and use of the affected body, organ, member or function. “Whether a limitation of use or function is ‘significant’ or ‘consequential’ relates to medical significance and involves a comparative determination of the degree or qualitative nature of an injury based on the normal function, purpose and use of the body part”. A minor, mild or slight limitation of use is considered insignificant within the meaning of the statute. Further, subjective claims of pain and limitation of movement must be verified by objective medical findings that are based on a recent examination of the plaintiff.

The Court said that, a movant seeking summary judgment on the ground that a plaintiff’s negligence claim is barred under the No-Fault Insurance Law bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case that the plaintiff did not sustain a “serious injury”. Once a movant meets this burden, the plaintiff must present proof in admissible form showing that a serious injury exists or demonstrate an acceptable excuse for failing to meet the requirement of tender in admissible form.

In the case at bar, the Court finds that defendant’s submissions were sufficient to establish that plaintiff did not sustain serious injury to her back, left hip or left wrist as a result of the accident. The burden, therefore, shifted to plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact, and she failed to present competent medical evidence substantiating her claim that her spinal injuries caused a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member, or a significant limitation of use of a body function or system. While under certain circumstances a herniated disc may constitute a serious injury within the meaning of Insurance Law § 5102(d), plaintiff failed to provide any objective evidence of the extent or degree of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the disc injury and its duration. Furthermore, plaintiff did not provide any recent medical evidence in opposition to the instant application; instead, plaintiff merely provided unsworn reports and records from the physicians who examined and treated plaintiff in the months following the accident in February of 2002. Such submissions were insufficient to rebut defendant’s prima facie showing of no serious injury.

Accordingly, the Court held that the motion by defendant for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds that plaintiff has failed to sustain a “serious injury” as that term is defined by Insurance Law § 5102(d), is granted.
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This action arises from a motor vehicle accidentwhich occurred on September 19, 2008, at approximately 5:30 p.m., in the eastbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway, Queens, New York, at or near its intersection with the Jewel Avenue Exit. The accident involved a 2005 Porche Boxster owned and operated by plaintiff and a 1986 Volvo Station Wagon owned by defendant and operated by defendant driver. Plaintiffs commenced this action by the filing and service of a Summons and Verified Complaint.

A source said that, it is plaintiff’s contention that the accident occurred when his vehicle, moving slowly in stop and go traffic on the Grand Central Parkway, was struck in the rear by defendants’ vehicle. Plaintiff claims that defendant driver admitted at his Examination Before Trial (“EBT”) that he did not see plaintiff’s vehicle until the moment of collision and offered no explanation for said collision other than his failure to pay attention to the road. Plaintiff claims that defendant driver was the negligent party in that he failed his duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances to avoid an accident. Plaintiff additionally claims that defendant driver cannot come up with a non-negligent explanation for striking plaintiff vehicle in the rear.

A Lawyer said that, in opposition to plaintiffs’ motion, defendants argue that, at his EBT, defendant driver testified that there were no brake lights illuminated on plaintiff’s vehicle just before the accident. Plaintiff submits that there is therefore an issue of fact as to the circumstances surrounding the accident and plaintiff’s motion should be denied. Defendants assert that a factual issue remains as to the extent that plaintiff’s comparative fault contributed to the happening of the subject accident by virtue of his failure to exercise ordinary prudence and to use such care to avoid the collision as an ordinarily prudent person would have under the circumstances.

A doctor said that, defendants move, pursuant to CPLR § 3212 and Article 51 of the Insurance Law of the State of New York, for an order granting them summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff did not sustain a “serious injury” in the subject accident as defined by New York State Insurance Law § 5102(d). Plaintiff opposed defendants’ motion. Plaintiff moved pursuant to CPLR § 3212, for an order granting partial summary judgment as to the liability against defendants. Defendants oppose the motion.

The issue in this case is whether defendants’ motion for summary judgment should be granted on the ground that plaintiff did not sustained serious injury in the subject accident as defined by New York State Insurance Law.

The Court said that, it is well settled that the proponent of a motion for summary judgment must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of material issues of fact. To obtain summary judgment, the moving party must establish its claim or defense by tendering sufficient evidentiary proof, in admissible form, sufficient to warrant the court, as a matter of law, to direct judgment in the movant’s favor. Such evidence may include deposition transcripts, as well as other proof annexed to an attorney’s affirmation. If a sufficient prima facie showing is demonstrated, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to come forward with competent evidence to demonstrate the existence of a material issue of fact, the existence of which necessarily precludes the granting of summary judgment and necessitates a trial. When considering a motion for summary judgment, the function of the court is not to resolve issues but rather to determine if any such material issues of fact exist. Mere conclusions or unsubstantiated allegations are insufficient to raise a triable issue. Further, to grant summary judgment, it must clearly appear that no material triable issue of fact is presented. The burden on the Court in deciding this type of motion is not to resolve issues of fact or determine matters of credibility, but merely to determine whether such issues exist. It is the existence of an issue, not its relative strength that is the critical and controlling consideration. The evidence should be construed in a light most favorable to the party moved against.

When the driver of an automobile approaches another automobile from the rear, he or she is bound to maintain a reasonably safe rate of speed and control over his or her vehicle and to exercise reasonable care to avoid colliding with the other vehicle pursuant to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (“VTL”) § 1129(a). A rear end collision with a stopped vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the operator of the offending vehicle. Such a collision imposes a duty of explanation on the operator. Of course, in a rear-end collision, the front most driver has the duty not to stop suddenly or slow down without proper signaling, pursuant to VTL § 1163, so as to avoid a collision.

As noted, a rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle creates a prima facie case of liability with respect to the operator of the rearmost vehicle, thereby requiring the operator to rebut the inference of negligence by providing a non-negligent explanation for the collision. Vehicle stops which are foreseeable under the prevailing traffic conditions, even if sudden and frequent, must be anticipated by the driver who follows, since the following driver is under a duty to maintain a safe distance between his or her car and the car ahead. Drivers must maintain safe distances between their cars and the cars in front of them and this rule imposes on them a duty to be aware of traffic conditions including stopped vehicles. Drivers have a duty to see what should be seen and to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances to avoid an accident.

Plaintiff, in his motion, has demonstrated prima facie entitlement to summary judgment on the issue of liability against defendants. Therefore, the burden shifts to defendants to demonstrate an issue of fact which precludes summary judgment. After applying the law to the facts in this case, the Court finds that defendants have failed to meet their burden to demonstrate an issue of fact which precludes summary judgment. Defendants failed to submit any evidence to establish a non-negligent explanation for striking plaintiff Deutsch’s vehicle in the rear.
Therefore, based upon the foregoing, plaintiffs’ motion, pursuant to CPLR § 3212, for an order granting partial summary judgment as to the liability against defendants is hereby granted.
The Court will now address defendants’ threshold motion. As a result of the subject accident described above, plaintiff claims that he sustained the following injuries: Cervical Disc Herniation and/or Displacement; C2-3 broad based central disc herniation tangent with the thecal sac; C3-4 disc bulging; C5-6 disc bulging;

C4-5 central disc herniation indenting the thecal sac narrowing both lateral recesses; C6-7 disc bulging indenting the thecal sac; C7-T1 central focal disc herniation indenting the thecal sac; Torticollis; Limitations to cervical range of motion; Muscle spasm & guarding – bilateral upper trapezius muscles; Muscle spasm & guarding – central paraspinal muscles; Cervicalgia.
Within the particular context of a threshold motion which seeks dismissal of a personal injury complaint, the movant bears a specific burden of establishing that the plaintiff did not sustain a “serious injury” as enumerated in Article 51 of the Insurance Law § 5102(d). Upon such a showing, it becomes incumbent upon the non-moving party to come forth with sufficient evidence in admissible form to raise an issue of fact as to the existence of a “serious injury.”
In support of a claim that the plaintiff has not sustained a serious injury, the defendant may rely either on the sworn statements of the defendant’s examining physicians or the unsworn reports of the plaintiff’s examining physicians. However, unlike the movant’s proof, unsworn reports of the plaintiff’s examining doctors or chiropractors are not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Essentially, in order to satisfy the statutory serious injury threshold, the legislature requires objective proof of a plaintiff’s injury. The Court said that a plaintiff’s proof of injury must be supported by objective medical evidence, such as sworn MRI and CT scan tests. However, these sworn tests must be paired with the doctor’s observations during the physical examination of the plaintiff. Unsworn MRI reports can also constitute competent evidence if both sides rely on those reports.

Conversely, even where there is ample proof of a plaintiff’s injury, certain factors may nonetheless override a plaintiff’s objective medical proof of limitations and permit dismissal of a plaintiff’s complaint. Specifically, additional contributing factors such as a gap in treatment, an intervening medical problem or a pre-existing condition would interrupt the chain of causation between the accident and the claimed injury.

In the case at bar, laintiff claims that, as a consequence of the above described automobile accident, he has sustained serious injuries as defined in § 5102(d) of the New York State Insurance Law and which fall within the following statutory categories of injuries:
1) a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; (Category 7)
2) a significant limitation of use of a body function or system; (Category 8)
3) a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment. (Category 9).

To meet the threshold regarding significant limitation of use of a body function or system or permanent consequential limitation of a body function or system, the law requires that the limitation be more than minor, mild or slight and that the claim be supported by medical proof based upon credible medical evidence of an objectively measured and quantified medical injury or condition. A minor, mild or slight limitation will be deemed insignificant within the meaning of the statute. A claim raised under the “permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member” or “significant limitation of use of a body function or system” categories can be made by an expert’s designation of a numeric percentage of a plaintiff’s loss of motion in order to prove the extent or degree of the physical limitation. In addition, an expert’s qualitative assessment of a plaintiff’s condition is also probative, provided: (1) the evaluation has an objective basis and (2) the evaluation compares the plaintiff’s limitation to the normal function, purpose and use of the affected body organ, member, function or system.
Finally, to prevail under the “medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment” category, a plaintiff must demonstrate through competent, objective proof, a “medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature” “which would have caused the alleged limitations on the plaintiff’s daily activities.” A curtailment of the plaintiff’s usual activities must be “to a great extent rather than some slight curtailment.” Under this category specifically, a gap or cessation in treatment is irrelevant in determining whether the plaintiff qualifies.

With these guidelines in mind, the Court will now turn to the merits of defendants’ motion. In support of their motion, defendants submit the pleadings, plaintiffs’ Verified Bill of Particulars, the transcript of plaintiff EBT testimony, the affirmed report of the doctor, who performed an independent orthopedic medical examination of plaintiff, the affirmed report of the doctor, who reviewed plaintiff’s cervical spine MRI and the Health Insurance Claim forms submitted by plaintiff’s treating providers.

Defendants first assert that plaintiff’s admissions in his EBT testimony regarding the minimal treatment he received after the subject accident is evidence that he failed to sustain a “serious injury” as a result of said accident. Defendants state that “plaintiff testified that he did not tell the police he was injured, request an ambulance or go to a hospital after the accident. The first time he sought medical treatment was three or four days after the accident. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, conducted an examination of plaintiff on July 8, 2011. Said examination included an evaluation of plaintiff’s cervical spine and upper extremities. Range of motion testing, conducted by way of a goniometer, revealed normal findings. Based upon his clinical findings and medical record reviews, orthopedic surgeon diagnosed plaintiff with “cervical strain – resolved with preexisting degenerative changes.” The doctor’s ultimate diagnosis of plaintiff was that “claimant is a 59-year-old male who alleges an injury of 09/18/08 as a seat belted driver. His prognosis is excellent. Currently, he shows no signs or symptoms of permanence relative to the musculoskeletal system and relative to the accident. He is currently not disabled. He is capable of his full time, full duty work as a real estate broker without restrictions. He is capable of his activities of daily living. He is capable of all pre-loss activities.”

With respect to plaintiffs’ 90/180 claim, defendants submit that plaintiff’s admissions at his EBT establish that he did not sustain an injury that prevented him from performing substantially all of the material acts that constituted his customary daily activities for at least 90 days of the 180 days immediately after the accident. Plaintiff testified that, at the time of the accident, he was employed as a real estate broker, that he was confined to his bed for two days and his home for a couple of weeks after the accident and the week after the accident he started doing work in his house. In addition, he quit that job to start his own business two years ago and worked 60-70 hours a week as he did before at Prudential. Furthermore, plaintiff is not claiming he was disabled for doing his normal activities for three months out of the first six months after the accident. Defendants also argue that the Health Insurance Claims forms submitted by plaintiff’s treating providers are further evidence that he did not sustain an injury which prevented him from working after the subject accident.

Based upon this evidence, the Court finds that defendants have established a prima facie case that plaintiff did not sustain serious injuries within the meaning of New York State Insurance Law § 5102(d).

The burden now shifts to plaintiffs to come forward with evidence to overcome defendants’ submissions by demonstrating the existence of a triable issue of fact that serious injuries were sustained. To support his burden, plaintiff submits his Affidavit and that of his doctors. Plaintiff argues that the Affidavits of his physicians raise issues of fact as would preclude summary judgment. Plaintiff also submitted the certified medical reports of his doctor in support of their opposition to defendants’ motion.

As previously stated, even where there is ample proof of a plaintiff’s spinal injury, certain factors may nonetheless override a plaintiff’s objective medical proof of limitations and permit dismissal of a plaintiff’s complaint. Specifically, additional contributing factors such as a gap in treatment, an intervening medical problem or a pre-existing condition would interrupt the chain of causation between the accident and the claimed injury. The Court finds that neither plaintiff nor his doctors adequately explained the cessation of plaintiff’s treatment after the accident.

Consequently, as plaintiff had an approximately two year gap in treatment and failed to adequately explain said cessation of treatment, the Court finds that these factors override plaintiff’s objective medical proof of limitations and permits dismissal of plaintiff’s Verified Complaint.

Additionally, plaintiff’s treating chiropractor failed to address the findings of defendants’ radiologist, with respect to degeneration, and thus failed to raise a triable issue of fact. Furthermore, plaintiff’s subjective complaints of pain, without more, are insufficient to satisfy the burden of establishing a serious injury. Finally, plaintiff’s deposition testimony does not establish that he was unable to perform substantially all of the material acts which constitute his usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury. Further, no where do plaintiffs claim that, as a result of plaintiff Deutsch’s alleged injuries, he was “medically” impaired from performing any of his daily activities or that he was curtailed “to a great extent rather than some slight curtailment.”.

Based on the above, the Court finds that plaintiff have failed to establish by competent medical proof that he sustained a “permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member,” a “significant limitation of use of a body function or system” or “a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.”

Accordingly, the Court held that defendants’ motion, pursuant to CPLR § 3212 and Article 51 of the Insurance Law of the State of New York, for an order granting them summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff Deutsch did not sustain a “serious injury” in the subject accident as defined by New York State Insurance Law § 5102(d) is hereby granted and plaintiffs’ Verified Complaint is dismissed in its entirety.
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An automobile accident occurred and, as a result, the appellee suffered serious injuries. He was taken to a Medical Center where he was evaluated by several NYC physicians, including a surgeon, an orthopedist, and a radiologist. However, these physicians misinterpreted appellee’s x-rays and radiological studies, and negligently concluded that he did not suffer a recent spinal injury, specifically a spinal column injury. Consequently, the attending surgeon and assistant encouraged appellee to attempt to walk approximately a week after the automobile accident. When he arose from the bed, appellee felt a shock and collapsed. He was then transferred to another Medical Center, a Regional Medical Center (second Medical Center), where he underwent surgery on his spine, but the surgery was not successful in reversing the spinal column damage, the spinal injury. The appellee then retained a lawyer of a certain law firm to investigate and initiate a legal malpractice action against the various physicians. The lawyer considered joining the physicians individually in the malpractice suit but, for various reasons, he decided not to join. He sent an “intent to sue” only to the two Manhattan Medical Centers and its physicians. However, when the complaint was filed, the first Medical Center was not named. Thereafter, during discovery, the lawyer realized that the second Medical Center’s defense was based upon the comparative fault of the first Medical Center and its physicians. At this point, the statute of limitations had already expired, and the lawyer realized the potential of a legal malpractice claim for failing to join them. Thus, the lawyer then contacted his insurance company and referred the appellee to a new counsel.

The appellee and the second Medical Center, and its physicians, entered into a settlement agreement in the amount of $1,000,000, and then brought a legal malpractice action against the lawyer and his firm, which the Insurance Company agreed to settle for the policy limits. However, the parties disputed whether the “per claim” amount applied or whether the “aggregate” amount applied. Specifically, the parties disputed whether the attorney’s failure to name the first Medical Center and each individual physician constituted independent wrongful acts or a single claim. So, the appellee filed a declaratory judgment action to determine the issue. He claimed that the policy provided $250,000 per wrongful act with a $500,000 aggregate for multiple wrongful acts. Because the lawyer committed multiple wrongful acts, the appellee claimed that he was entitled to the aggregate limits. The Insurance Company argued that the policy was a claims-made policy and that the policy provided $250,000 per claim rather than per wrongful act; that, since there was only one claim, the appellee was entitled to only $250,000 in coverage. The trial court agreed with the appellee and, on motion for summary judgment, entered a judgment in favor of the appellee for the aggregate limits. Based upon its interpretation of the policy, the trial court found that there were several acts of malpractice during the legal representation of appellees. Thus, the trial ruled that the appellees were entitled to the aggregate policy limits. The Insurance Company now appeals the said judgment.

The issues for the court’s determination is whether or not, pursuant to the insurance policy of the law firm the aggregate policy limit should apply where the appellee’s attorney committed multiple wrongful acts by failing to join several defendants in his medical malpractice action; whether or not, because each of the defendants had separate insurance coverage available to pay a damage award, appellee had multiple claims against his attorney.

The insurance company argues that appellee has only a single claim because he suffered one injury, that is, he did not receive his full recovery because the attorney failed to join all the proper defendants before the statute of limitations tolled; that even if the failure to sue each defendant is considered a wrongful act, these wrongful acts are related to the appellee’s sole malpractice claim against his attorney.

The appeal arises from a dispute regarding the policy limits of a legal malpractice insurance policy. The insurance policy in dispute is a “claims-made” policy which covers claims made against the insured during the policy period. The policy specifically provides that the insurance company shall pay on behalf of an insured all sums an insured must legally pay as damages because of a wrongful act that results in a claim first made against an insured and which is reported to the insurance company in writing during the policy period; that a claim means a demand received by the insurance company or an insured for money or services; and that a wrongful act means any negligent act, error or omission arising out of professional services rendered or that should have been rendered by an insured. Under the conditions of the policy, the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay for each claim is the limit shown in the declarations as “per claim” for all claims and claims expenses arising out of or in connection with the same or related wrongful act; that this limit applies regardless of the number of persons that are insured under the policy or the number of claimants; that the aggregate, subject to the aforementioned condition, maximum amount that the insurance company will pay for all claims and claims expenses will not exceed the limit shown in the declarations as aggregate; and that all wrongful acts for which claims, or incidents which will later become claims, reported during the policy period are included.

As a rule, the construction and interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of law for the court. Such contracts are read in accordance with the plain language of the policy, and any ambiguities are liberally construed in favor of the insured and strictly against the insurer as the drafter of the policy. A policy is ambiguous where it is susceptible to two or more reasonable interpretations. However, a policy is not ambiguous merely because it is complex and requires analysis to interpret it.

Here, the court finds that the Insurance Company’s interpretation of the policy is consistent with the policy language. A claim under the policy is a demand against the insured for money. Notably, there was but one demand for money, namely the lost recovery because of the failure to join various other defendants and thus one claim. Even if the appellee had multiple claims against his attorney, the “per claim” limit still applies where the claims arise out of the same or related wrongful acts.

The California Supreme Court has already ruled in one case that, when a single client seeks to recover from a single attorney alleged damages based on a single debt collection matter for which the attorney was retained, there can only be a single claim under the attorney’s professional liability insurance policy. Applying that rationale to the case at bar, the appellee retained an attorney to recover damages he incurred as a result of several physicians’ negligent conduct, but was unable to recover the full extent of his damages because of the attorney’s failure to include all the responsible defendants in his action. While the attorney’s negligent omission may be considered multiple wrongful acts, the appellee suffered only one injury, that is, an award that does not represent the full extent of his damages.

In sum, the alleged wrongful acts of the attorney were related and resulted in a single claim. While there were several wrongful acts, they were all related and constituted but one claim of legal malpractice under the policy language. Thus, the court finds that the judgment appealed from must be reversed and remanded for an entry of a declaratory judgment determining that the policy limit “per claim”, and not the aggregate limit, applies.
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This action stems from personal injuries allegedly sustained by plaintiff as a result of a car accidentwith defendant which occurred on May 30, 2008, at approximately 7:35 a.m., at or near the intersection of Old Country Road and Sweet Hollow Road, Huntington, County of Suffolk, State of New York. The accident involved two vehicles, a 2005 Mitsubishi truck operated by plaintiff and owned by his employer,and a 2006 Chevrolet owned and operated by defendant.

Plaintiff contends that his vehicle was stopped for a red traffic signal at the aforementioned intersection and, when said traffic signal turned green for vehicles traveling eastbound through the intersection, plaintiff proceeded through said intersection. As plaintiff was driving through the intersection, defendant went through a red traffic light at the intersection and his vehicle collided with plaintiffs vehicle. As a result of the collision, plaintiff claims that he sustained serious injury.

Defendant moves, pursuant to CPLR § 3212 and Article 51 of the Insurance Law of the State of New York, for an order granting him summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff did not suffer a “serious injury” in the subject accident as defined by New York State Insurance Law § 5102(d). Plaintiff opposes the motion.

The Court finds that defendant has established a prima facie case that plaintiff did not sustain serious injuries within the meaning of New York State Insurance Law § 5102(d).

Plaintiff’s reports are insufficient to show whether plaintiff sustained serious injury under the permanent consequential limitation of use or significant limitation of use categories of New York State Insurance Law § 5102(d). Failure to indicate which objective test was performed to measure the loss of range of motion is contrary to the requirements of Toure v. Avis Rent-a-Car Systems, supra. It renders the expert’s opinion as to any purported loss worthless and the Court can not consider such. See Toure v. Avis Rent-a-Car Systems, supra; Powell v. Alade, 31 A.D.3d 523, 818 N.Y.S.2d 600 (2d Dept. 2006). In Goluld v. Ombrellino, 57 A.D.3d 608, 869 N.Y.S.2d 567 (2d Dept. 2008), the Court held that a doctor’s affirmation, in a motion for summary judgment, was insufficient to show whether plaintiff sustained serious injury under permanent consequential limitation of use or significant limitation of use categories of no-fault automobile insurance provision, when, although the doctor set forth range of motion tests results based on a recent examination that revealed limitations in plaintiffs lumbar spine, plaintiff did not proffer competent medical evidence that showed similar range of motion limitations in the lumbar spine that were contemporaneous with the subject accident.

Furthermore, the physician’s conclusions that, “based upon the foregoing examinations, testing and treatment my diagnosis is that plaintiff suffers from: bulging discs at L2 through SI with thecal sac effacement and encroachment upon the neuroforamina; Traumatic left C5-6 cervical radiculopathy; Traumatic left L5-S1 radiculopathy and Traumatic myofascial pain syndrome as a result of the motor vehicle accident on May 30, 2008” are speculative in light of the fact that he failed to address or even acknowledge the fact that plaintiff had previously injured his lumbar spine in a prior car accident.

It is also noted that the unsworn report of another physician presented by plaintiff does not constitute competent admissible evidence in opposition to this motion for summary judgment. In the absence of any opinion as to the causality of her findings, her report is not competent medical evidence sufficient to present an issue of fact. See Garcia v. Lopez, 59 A.D.3d 593, 872 N.Y.S.2d The reports of plaintiffs treating and examining physicians also failed to address the findings of defendant’s radiologist with respect to degeneration, and thus, failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

Additionally, plaintiffs subjective complaints of pain, without more, are insufficient to satisfy the burden of establishing a serious injury. See Marshall v. Albano, 182 A.D.2d 614, 582 N. Y.S.2d 220 (2d Dept. 1992). Plaintiff has therefore failed to establish by competent medical proof that he sustained a “permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member” or a “significant limitation of use of a body function or system.” See Insurance Law § 5102(d).

Finally, plaintiffs deposition testimony does not establish that he was unable to perform substantially all of the material acts which constitute his usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury. Plaintiff went back to work shortly after the accident.
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This action is for personal injuries alleged to have occurred as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving vehicles driven by plaintiff, , and defendant, , on February 19, 2002, at the intersection of Deepdale Drive and New York Avenue, Town of Huntington, New York. A Personal Injury Lawyer said that, plaintiff served a summons and complaint on defendant. Thereafter, defendant served a third-party summons and complaint on third-party defendant. Within the third-party complaint, defendant alleged that the traffic light at the subject intersection was malfunctioning and inoperable at the time of the accident.

A Lawyer said that, by order dated April 1, 2005, the third-party defendant was granted summary judgment dismissing the third-party complaint and all cross-claims against it. Within the aforementioned Order, the Court noted that during the discovery process, it was revealed that the town, not the County of Suffolk, “owned operated and controlled” the traffic signal at the subject intersection. A Suffolk Personal Injury Lawyer said that, by Order dated March 23, 2007, this Court granted the summary judgment motions of second third-party defendant, and third-party defendant, on the grounds that there was no issue of material fact regarding the liability of those defendants. Defendant now moves for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff has not met the serious injury threshold as set forth in Insurance Law § 5102(d). In support thereof, defendant has submitted, among other things, the deposition transcript of plaintiff, and reports from two doctors who conducted independent medical examinations of plaintiff.

A source said that, plaintiff served a verified bill of particulars, sworn to on December 11, 2003, which alleged that she suffered the following injuries as a result of the car accident: sprain and contusion of left hip; pain in left hip; pain in left wrist; and injuries to the cervical spine, including spinal nerve root compression and bulging discs. Each injury, except for superficial ones, was alleged to be permanent and/or long lasting, and caused diminution of use and motion of the neck and back. Plaintiff appeared for a deposition, and was thereafter physically examined, on or about October 25, 2006, by an orthopedist, and a neurologist, both of whom were designated by defendant. After conducting objective tests on plaintiff, the doctors found, as indicated by their sworn reports, that plaintiff had no orthopedic impairment and no neurologic injury. The orthopedist found that plaintiff may perform the daily activities of living, without restriction, and the neurologist found no permanency or disability as a result of the subject accident. Based upon these findings, a doctor said that defendant argues that plaintiff has not satisfied the “serious injury” threshold, as set forth in Insurance Law § 5102(d). Defendant contends that plaintiff’s alleged soft tissue spinal injuries do not constitute a serious injury.

The issue in this case is whether plaintiff sustained serious injury as defined under the Insurance Law.

The Court held that, New York’s No-Fault Insurance Law precludes recovery for any “noneconomic loss, except in the case of serious injury, or for basic economic loss” arising out of the negligent use or operation of a motor vehicle. As recognized by the Court of Appeals, the “legislative intent underlying the No-Fault Law was to weed out frivolous claims and limit recovery to significant injuries”. The Legislature also intended that the issue of whether a plaintiff sustained a “serious injury” could be determined by the courts as a matter of law on a motion for summary judgment.

The Court cited the provisions of the Insurance Law § 5102(d) defines “serious injury” as “a personal injury which results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment”.

To establish a permanent consequential limitation or a significant limitation of use, the medical evidence submitted by a plaintiff must include objective, quantitative evidence with respect to diminished range of motion or a qualitative assessment, based on objective findings, comparing the plaintiff’s present limitations to the normal function, purpose and use of the affected body, organ, member or function. “Whether a limitation of use or function is ‘significant’ or ‘consequential’ relates to medical significance and involves a comparative determination of the degree or qualitative nature of an injury based on the normal function, purpose and use of the body part”. A minor, mild or slight limitation of use is considered insignificant within the meaning of the statute. Further, subjective claims of pain and limitation of movement must be verified by objective medical findings that are based on a recent examination of the plaintiff.

The Court said that, a movant seeking summary judgment on the ground that a plaintiff’s negligence claim is barred under the No-Fault Insurance Law bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case that the plaintiff did not sustain a “serious injury”. Once a movant meets this burden, the plaintiff must present proof in admissible form showing that a serious injury exists or demonstrate an acceptable excuse for failing to meet the requirement of tender in admissible form.

In the case at bar, the Court finds that defendant’s submissions were sufficient to establish that plaintiff did not sustain serious injury to her back, left hip or left wrist as a result of the accident. The burden, therefore, shifted to plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact, and she failed to present competent medical evidence substantiating her claim that her spinal injuries caused a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member, or a significant limitation of use of a body function or system. While under certain circumstances a herniated disc may constitute a serious injury within the meaning of Insurance Law § 5102(d), plaintiff failed to provide any objective evidence of the extent or degree of the alleged physical limitations resulting from the disc injury and its duration. Furthermore, plaintiff did not provide any recent medical evidence in opposition to the instant application; instead, plaintiff merely provided unsworn reports and records from the physicians who examined and treated plaintiff in the months following the accident in February of 2002. Such submissions were insufficient to rebut defendant’s prima facie showing of no serious injury.

Accordingly, the Court held that the motion by defendant for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds that plaintiff has failed to sustain a “serious injury” as that term is defined by Insurance Law § 5102(d), is granted.
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On March 16, 2003, two cars were involved in a head-on collisionin an expressway in Brooklyn, New York. Both the drivers of the two cars claimed damages for serious spinal injuries they allegedly sustained. Both claim that they lost the function of their lumbar or cervical spine. Both claimed bulging discs at the cervical spine, herniated discs at the lumbar spine, sprain and nerve damage. The drivers sued each other as well as their insurers for damages.

Both submitted magnetic resonance imaging scans which their medical experts used as basis to find that there were degenerative changes in the cervical and lumbar spine which show herniation (swelling).

However, the medical reports issued by the examining neurologist at the time of the accident only found the two drivers to be suffering from cervical and thoracic spinal sprain and right shoulder sprain. In the weeks that followed the accident, the same attending neurologist made follow-up reports of the development of the injuries sustained by both the drivers and reported that the spinal sprains have resolved themselves. Even the sprain in the right shoulder and right arm were also resolved. This is evidence, according to the insurers, that neither driver sustained serious injury such that they can be compensated under the Insurance Law. There is no evidence that links their injuries as caused by accident.

For their part, the drivers both answered the contention of their respective insurers that the injuries sustained by them were not serious injuries. They both claimed that at the time of the accident, their injuries were “serious” enough to cause them pain and to cause them to refrain from their normal activities. They could not go to work and had to rest in bed. They both claim that is only thanks to rigorous physical therapy. They produced authenticated medical records from the neurologists and radiologists they consulted who all opined that the bulging and swollen discs of their cervical and lumbar spine were all directly caused by the accident.
The insurers filed motions for summary judgment asking that the complaints against them be dropped. They both claim that while both the drivers sustained injuries as a result of the accident, their injuries may not be serious injuries as defined by the Insurance Law such that the insurers cannot be made liable to pay therefor.

The only question before the trial court was whether or not the summary judgment should be granted and the case against them be dismissed. The trial court granted the summary judgment. Both drivers then appealed.

Upon appeal, the only question before the Court is whether or not the order granting the motion for summary judgment was proper.

The Court held that the insurers gave acceptable preliminary proof that the two drivers did not sustain a serious injury as it is defined under the Insurance Law. The drivers have succeeded in proving that they both suffered from bulging or swollen spinal discs. However, swollen spinal discs by themselves cannot be considered as acceptable evidence of a serious injury.
Both the drivers have to submit proof that the swollen spinal discs constitute serious injury that would disable them from doing their usual work and daily activities. The Court held that when they submitted scans and reports of their own physicians, the two drivers have raised a material issue of fact that has to be tried. That is to say, both the drives were able to submit evidence that raised an issue of fact which a jury alone can determine.

Thus, the Court remanded the case for further proceedings to determine the material issue of fact raised by the two drivers.
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On July 23, 2007, a man was sitting at the traffic control light located at Greenwich Street and Jerusalem Avenue in Nassau County, New York when another vehicle hit his. The other vehicle made contact with his vehicle in a same direction side swipe manner. As the vehicle was driving past his in the same direction, it swerved and the offending vehicle swept up the passenger side of the man’s car from the rear passenger side area to the front. The man filed a personal injury and 90/180 case against the driver of the other vehicle.

In order for a person to claim a serious person injury under the auspices of the New York Insurance Law, they must be able to prove that they suffered an injury that was invasive enough to alter their normal everyday lifestyle. In order to make that statement, the injured person must be able to demonstrate through medical records that they have sustained either a permanent loss of use, or partial percentage loss of use of a member of their body.

Alternatively, they can show a brain injury or spinal injury that is severe enough to have altered their lives and receives treatment. They may also file a 90/180 claim that contends that although they recovered from their injuries, they were incapacitated by them for 90 out of the 180 days that immediately followed the car accident. It is important that the injured person is able to demonstrate that they have been continually under the care of a doctor from the time of the accident until the time that they filed their suit. The court has been known to dismiss a gap in treatment for legitimate reasons if it can be properly documented.

In this case, the driver of the other car filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to dismiss the case. The other driver contends that the man did not demonstrate proper documentation showing that he had sustained a serious injury under the guidelines of the New York Insurance Law § 5102(d). While he submitted several test results, they were missing original signatures and failed to have sworn doctor testimony upholding them. Further, the driver of the other car demonstrated that the man claims to have been disabled by the accident, however, there is evidence that he took a job at UPS four months following the accident date. Since that time, the man has not been seen by a medical professional for any of his injuries. Because, the other driver contends that the man has not proven his case under the statute as either permanent, or as a 90/180, the man asks the court to free him from liability and dismiss this case as frivolous.

The court reviewed the case and examined all records associated with it. The court is reluctant to grant summary judgment dismissing a case because New York Law considers that a person has a right to argue their case in court. When there is even the slightest chance that there may be arguable points of fact, then the case will not issue a summary judgment and will forward the case to court for trial. In this case, although the man had provided doctor’s letters, they were not sworn documents. The primary test result that he was depending on to make his case, was not signed or properly admitted. Further, the fact that the man had obtained employment within four months of suffering his injury and stopped all medical treatment for a period of two years before filing this claim is suspect. The man provided no explanation for his failure to obtain treatment for two years following the accident. With these facts in mind, the court approved the other driver’s request for summary judgment and dismissed the case against him.
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This involves a case where the court denied the motion of the defendants for summary judgment to dismiss the case against them.

Plaintiff alleged that, on June 16, 2007, he was injured when a New York City Transit Authority Bus driven by its employee made contact with a motor vehicle driven by defendant driver and owned by owner. Plaintiff was a passenger in defendant driver’s vehicle. By decision and order dated September 16, 2008, the court granted defendant owner’s motion to dismiss the complaint and any cross claims in this action as against it. (Martorella Affirm, dated 3/18/11, Ex E.)

The bill of particulars alleges that, as a result of this alleged car accident, plaintiff sustained herniated discs at C4-C7, and L5-S1, and injuries to his right hip, right arm, right shoulder, neck and back, some of which are believed or may be permanent in nature. (Martorella Affirm, dated 3/18/11, Ex C [Bill of Particulars ¶ 6].) In August 2008, plaintiff, who was represented by a law firm, apparently decided to represent himself. (Martorella Affirm, dated 3/18/11, Ex D.) Plaintiff testified at his deposition that, at the time of the accident, he was employed by Gotham Registry, a nursing agency, working per diem as a licensed nursing assistant.

Defendants essentially argue that plaintiff’s alleged injuries are minor and not causally connected to the accident. In support of their motion for summary judgment, defendants submit the affirmed reports of a neurologist and an orthopedic surgeon. (Martorella Affirm, dated 3/18/11, Exs G, H.) Defendants also maintain that plaintiff’s alleged cervical and lumbar spinal injuries were pre-existing injuries, based on plaintiff’s deposition testimony and medical records.

The Manhattan neurologist examined plaintiff on August 25, 2008. According to her report, the examination covered areas such as “mental status,” “cranial nerves,” “motor examination,” “reflexes,” “sensory,” “gait and coordination,” and “cerebellar examination.” The neurologist also recorded the ranges of motion, expressed in degrees, and corresponding normal values, at plaintiff’s neck, and found full range of motion. The neurologist concluded that “exacerbation of preexisting spinal injury, resolved” and that “from a neurologic standpoint, there is no need for further treatment.” (Martorella Affirm, dated 3/18/11, Ex G.)

The orthopedic surgeon also examined plaintiff on August 25, 2008. The orthopedic surgeon recorded the ranges of motion, expressed in degrees, and corresponding normal values, in plaintiff’s cervical spine, right shoulder, lumbosacral spine, and right hip. The orthopedic surgeon found that plaintiff had normal ranges of motion in his right shoulder, lumbosacral spine, and right hip. He noted “slightly decreased range of motion of the cervical spine on flexion to 30 degrees (45 degrees normal), extension to 30 degrees (45 degrees normal), lateral bend to 35 degrees (45 degrees normal), right and left rotation to 50 degrees (70 degrees normal).” (Martorella Affirm, dated 3/18/11, Ex H.). The orthopedic surgeon stated, “In my opinion, I find the claimant has no disability.” (Id.)

According to the court, the defendants have not met their prima facie burden of summary judgment, based on the affirmed reports of the neurologist and orthopedic surgeon, who both did not state the objective methods used to measure plaintiff’s ranges of motion. “The defendant cannot satisfy that burden if it presents the affirmation of a doctor which recites that the plaintiff has normal ranges of motion in the affected body parts but does not specify the objective tests performed to arrive at that conclusion.” [“Defendants’ failure to indicate the objective tests used to determine the range of motion in plaintiff’s cervical spine was fatal to their efforts to establish a prima facie case for summary dismissal”].)
As defendants point out, the neurologist and orthopedic surgeon both noted under “Past Medical History,” that plaintiff was attacked/assaulted by a guard, sustaining injuries to his neck and back. However, neither the neurologist and orthopedic surgeon conclude that plaintiff’s alleged injuries were pre-existing in nature. Therefore, defendant’s contention that plaintiff’s injuries are preexisting is unsubstantiated.

Because defendants do not demonstrate, as a matter of law, that none of plaintiff’s injuries meet the No Fault threshold, “it is unnecessary to address whether his proof with respect to other injuries he allegedly sustained would have been sufficient to withstand defendants’ motion for summary judgment.” (Linton v Nawaz, 14 NY3d at 821.)
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A personal injury action arises out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred at the intersection of Oceanside Road and Erwin Place in Oceanside, New York. Among other injuries, the woman suffered a traumatic brain injury.

On June 30, 2010, the Court denied the opponents’ motions for summary judgment to dismiss the woman’s complaint. The Court determined that, as the woman had yet to testify at her sworn examination before trial, the accused men’s motion for summary judgment must be denied as premature. The Court also determined that because both accused men have failed to demonstrate that the Town of Hempstead Building Zone Ordinances do not apply to them, the motion and cross motion must be denied. Finally, the Court also held that, because the driver’s operation of his motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol arguably may be deemed by the trier of fact to be a superseding cause of the woman’s injuries, the accused men’s motions for summary judgment to dismiss the woman’s action based in negligence must be denied.

The core of the Queens woman’s allegations against the accused men relates to certain bushes located between the residences, which bushes are alleged to block the view of traffic. The woman alleges that the overgrown nature of the bushes, which she claim are in contravention of height requirements provided in local ordinances, contributed in some measure to the occurrence of the serious traffic accident.

In an attempt to reverse the Court’s determination, the accused men both separately move for leave to renew the Court’s Decision and Order. Both accused state that their respective motions are made pursuant to the Civil Practice Law and Rules, which provides for a combined motion for leave to reargue and leave to renew.

The Civil Practice Law provides that a combined motion for leave to reargue and leave to renew shall identify separately and support separately each item of relief sought. The court, in determining a combined motion for leave to reargue and leave to renew, shall decide each part of the motion as if it were separately made.

In considering such a motion made pursuant to the Civil Practice Law and Rules, a Court must measure each branch of the motion according to the requirements which govern motions for re-argument and renewal, respectively.

In the instant case, one of the accused make it plain in his motion and reply papers that his motion is one for renewal, not re-argument. Specifically, in the reply it is stated that, despite the woman’s assertion that the accused men’s motion is a combined motion to renew and reargue, the accused men’s motion was in fact made as motion to renew. Yet, the accused men include in his motion and reply papers various arguments previously submitted to the Court, without identifying which matters of fact or law the NYC Court allegedly overlooked or misapprehended.

The other man is intimate that his motion is both a renewal and a re-argument motion, although the labeling of his own motion is inconsistent within the affirmation of counsel. Finally, in his reply, the accused claim that the motion is a combined one for renewal and re-argument.

In any event, the Court will consider each such motion separately, as required by statute. Firstly, with respect to the first man’s renewal motion, the Court notes that the accused have not presented any new facts for the Court’s consideration, nor have they demonstrated that there has been a change in the law that would change the Court’s prior determination. Thus, the accused man’s motion to renew is denied, but the Court will consider his motion as one seeking leave to reargue.

The other accused man’s renewal motion is likewise denied. Although the accused have submitted the woman’s deposition testimony, which he did not possess when he filed the original summary judgment motion, the woman’s testimony does not change the prior determination of the Court. The woman’s testimony consists of a total of six (6) pages wherein she testified that she remembers nothing about the accident. She did not testify about the general appearance of the roadways involved, nor did she offer testimony about the bushes in question. Despite the fact that her testimony is wholly and plainly of no moment regarding the men’s liability related to the bushes, the accused men both submitted such testimony in support of their motion.

Although both men’s motions are not specifically and properly identified, the Court will afford a broader view of their respective motions and treat those motions as motions for re-argument as well.

At his oral examination before trial, one of the men testified that he had consumed alcohol on the day of the accident. He testified that ultimately he pled guilty to driving while under the influence of alcohol and that he was sentenced upon that conviction. He stated at his deposition that he was also prosecuted and pled guilty to vehicular assault in the 2nd degree, a class E felony. He admitted that he was operating a motor vehicle while having 0.09 of 1% per centum or more of alcohol in his blood. His license was subsequently revoked.
The man also testified that at the time of the accident which resulted to the woman’s injury, he was operating his motor vehicle heading northbound on Oceanside Road. The complainant woman was operating her vehicle westbound and was attempting to make a left hand turn onto Oceanside Road when the impact occurred. The woman’s travel was governed by a stop sign on Erwin Place. The facts established that, at the intersection, Oceanside Road is slightly curved so that a vehicle traveling north on Oceanside Road, such as the accused man’s vehicle, would be driving on a bend as he approached the subject T-intersection. In fact, the man testified at his deposition that a person traveling on Oceanside Road did not have clear view of the intersection as a result of the curvature of the road, the telephone pole, the speed limit sign and also the hedgerow on the accused man’s properties.

It was also established on the underlying motions that the other man is the owner of the premises, which sits on the south-east corner of said T-intersection, and the front of which faces Erwin Place. The accused is the owner as tenants in common of the premises, which home is adjacent to the other accused man’s home, and the front of which faces Oceanside Road. It was legitimate entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law.

The testimony of the non-party witnesses establishes that the bushes in question may have contributed to the occurrence of the accident underlying the action, thus raising triable issues of fact with respect to the personal injury liability of both the accused. Neither of the accused men submitted the non-party witness deposition testimony to the Court. The woman submitted that deposition testimony in her opposition to the instant motions made by the accused.

The woman’s former boyfriend testified that the bushes that are blocking the view of the vehicles located on Erwin Place, thus interfering with a driver’s ability to see cars traveling northbound on Oceanside Road.

A passenger in the car traveling behind the woman described that same intersection as being obstructed by bushes that were about six feet high.

A man driving the car traveling behind the woman at the time of the accident testified that the bushes in question block the view of the oncoming traffic on Oceanside Road. He saw the truck only after it had passed the bushes. According to him, the bushes started relatively close to the intersection and ran all the way down and he couldn’t really see the street at all.
The Court turns to the accused men’s claims that the town ordinances do not apply to them, and do not place any duty on them with regard to motorists.

Specifically, the ordinances alleged by the woman to have been breached by the moving accused men relate to Fences and Fences and Planting screens. Upon their instant motions to renew, the accused have failed to proffer any new or additional facts surrounding the alleged statutory breaches. Nevertheless, even overlooking the otherwise fatal procedural infirmity, the accused have failed to demonstrate, yet again on the renewed motion, that the ordinances do not apply to them.

As the Court detailed in its prior Decision and Order, the woman’s personal injury claims against the accused relate to their alleged failure to keep the hedges on their property properly trimmed so as to permit maximum view of the T-intersection. In that regard, while it is true that generally property owners have no common-law duty to control the vegetation on their property for the benefit of public highway users, the accused have failed to show that the shrubbery at issue does not apply to them. Upon their instant motions, the accused maintain that even if the shrubbery at issue is deemed to be a planting screen within the meaning of the ordinances, the language of the ordinances to not specifically outline or intimate that the ordinance is in place to protect drivers on a highway. Relying principally upon the Second Departments’ rulings as well as the Court of Appeals’ ruling, the accused argue that in addition to the fact that there is no common law duty owed to the woman by the landowners, the public policy also supports the finding that they as private landowners cannot be held liable to the accused. The arguments are unavailing.

It is true that there is no common law duty imposed upon owners or occupiers of land to control vegetation on their property for the benefit of users of a public highway. The absence of a common law duty on the abutting owner, however, does not end the inquiry into the abutting owner’s potential liability. There exists an exception to the common law rule when, as in this case, an ordinance or a specific regulatory provision places an affirmative duty on the abutting owner to maintain and keep the area free of obstructions. It is undisputed that the Town of Hempstead Building Zone Ordinance, impose upon the property owners a duty to prevent vegetation from visually obstructing the roadway. Thus, in the absence of any demonstration by the accused that they complied with said ordinances, proof of noncompliance with the regulatory provisions may give rise to tort liability for any damages proximately caused thereby.

Accordingly, the accused men’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the woman’s complaint is again denied, even upon renewal/re-argument. Ultimately, whether the hedge grow was the proximate cause of the accident, is among the many issues that warrant a trial.
Finally, inasmuch as the accused do not address the Court’s basis for the denial of their underlying motions, to wit, that the operation of the motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol may be deemed by the trier of fact to be a superseding cause of the woman’s injuries, the application to reverse the Court’s prior determination and order must clearly be denied.
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