By: Daily Record Staff//November 10, 2011
By: Daily Record Staff//November 10, 2011//
Appellate Division, Fourth Department
Setting Aside a Verdict
Todd v. PLSIII LLC, et al.
Appealed from Supreme Court, Niagara County
Background: The plaintiff, Todd, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Hasley, a defendant and plaintiff. The vehicle driven by Hasley was in an accident with a vehicle owned by PLSIII. The defendant’s driver testified that as he approached an intersection the light was red, but turned green just as he reached the intersection. As he proceeded into the intersection he struck the plaintiffs. The jury determined that the driver was negligent but that his negligence was not the proximate cause of the accident. The court had granted the plaintiff’s motion to set aside the verdict as inconsistent and against the weight of the evidence.
Ruling: The appellate division reversed. The appellate division found that the court implicitly determined the issues of negligence and proximate cause were inextricably interwoven as to make it logically impossible to find negligence without finding proximate cause. Such a finding was in error. Moreover, the standard was whether the jury’s determination was illogical or without a fair interpretation of the evidence. At trial the driver had testified that he had seen the plaintiff’s vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed just prior to the accident in the intersection leading to the inference that the plaintiff may have ran the red light.
Michael T. Reagan of Cascone & Kluepful LLP for the defendants-appellants; James A. Verrico of Cantor, Kukasik, Dolce & Paneptinto for the plaintiff-respondent Todd; Gregory V. Pajak of Cellino & Barnes PC for the plaintiff-respondent Hasley; Victor M. Wright of Hagelin Kent LLC for the defendant-respondent