Category Archives: Motor Vehicle Law

Snowmobiler Intoxicated at Time of His Death in Crash:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Was Decedent “Visibly Intoxicated ”At Time He Was Served Drinks So As To Implicate Dram Act Liability?

The New York Alcoholic Beverage Law prohibits the sale of liquor to an intoxicated person. The Dram Shop Act creates a private civil cause of action against those who overserve drinks in favor of third-parties who suffer personal injuries as a result of a violation of the ABC Law. But to trigger Dram Shop liability a claimant must establish that the miscreant was “visibly intoxicated”—a fact and case specific burden.

Michael Stanley, Thomas Kelly, and five other men met at the home of Thomas and Jillian Kelly on March 17, 2017; the group left the Kelly’s home, with Stanley driving a snowmobile owned by the Kelly’s; the group stopped at the Boonville Hotel, Inc. and consumed alcohol there; and after leaving the Hotel the group got gas and began the return trip to the Kelly’s home. At that point, Stanley drove the snowmobile into a concrete overpass, resulting in his death. The autopsy report indicated the cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries due to snowmobile accident with a fixed object. The toxicology report showed Stanley had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16%. The Oneida County Sheriff’s Department concluded that speed and alcohol were the two biggest contributing factors to the single snowmobile accident.

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Driver “Blinded by Sun” Hits Biker

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Was “Emergency Doctrine” a Defense?

Andrew DiNatale sued to recover damages for injuries he allegedly sustained on April 29, 2015 while riding a bicycle. He was struck by a motor vehicle owned by Mac Mechanical Conveyor (MCC) and operated by Nicholas Gerbano.

DiNatale moved for partial summary judgment in his favor as to MMC/Gerbano’s negligence, arguing that their actions were the sole proximate cause of the accident. DiNatale also sought an order striking their affirmative defenses related to “negligence liability.” In support of the motion, DiNatale submitted his own affidavit, various photographs, and a certified copy of an MV-104A police accident report.

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Was Traffic Stop, Search & Seizure Legal:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Court of Appeals Disagrees (4-3)

Our Courts regularly hold evidentiary hearings to determine whether evidence seized by the police without a warrant should be suppressed. A recent case reached our State’s highest Court after the Supreme Court denied a motion to suppress drugs found during a traffic stop– and the Appellate Division agreed. Four Judges of the Court of Appeals affirmed in a brief opinion. But three Judges dissented in a far more detailed recitation of the facts followed by an even more comprehensive legal rebuttal.

Reginald Blandford appealed the denial of his motion to suppress marijuana found during a traffic stop of his vehicle. In the course of a stop predicated on the observation of traffic violations—the legality of which (according to the majority decision) Blandford did not contest before the Court of Appeals.

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Two Cars Collide on Montauk Hwy In Copaigue

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Who Was At Fault Where Both Violated the Law?

A large part of our tort liability jurisprudence addresses the threshold question of “fault”. But, as a recent automobile collision case illustrates, the “fickle finger of fault” may point in both directions.

Two cars collided in the westbound right lane of Montauk Highway in Copaigue, New York. Just prior to the accident, Diana Lopez was exiting a parking lot with her vehicle half on the apron and half in the right lane in order to cross over Montauk Highway and make a left turn. Christopher Ceravino was traveling westbound on Montauk Highway in the left lane at 30 miles per hour when, from 150-200 feet away, he first noticed Lopez’s vehicle between the apron of the parking lot and the right lane of Montauk Highway. Ceravino did not stop his vehicle, but, instead, moved into the right lane and ultimately struck the Lopez vehicle. The jury found that Lopez was negligent and that her negligence was a proximate cause of the accident and that Ceravino was not negligent. The County Court granted Lopez’s motion to set aside the verdict as against the weight of the evidence. Ceravino appealed.

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“Wrong Way” Biker Hits “Jay-Walker” on E. 55th: NY Law and NYC Reg Collide Btw. Lex. and Third

This originally appeared on the SGR Blog.

A deliveryman drives his  bicycle against traffic on a one way street.  A pedestrian crosses in the middle of the block. The biker hits the jay- walker. Litigation ensues. Both violated the law.  Who is at fault?

Antoinette Montague was struck by an employee  of T&W Restaurant, Inc. while he was making deliveries on a bicycle. The employee was riding the bike against the one-way direction of travel on East 55th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues– a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

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Loss of a New York City Parking Space Is Not A Laughing Matter: Ask Alec Baldwin

This was originally published on the SGR blog.

Saturday Night Live comedian Alec Baldwin engaged in a shoving match with Wojciech Cieszkowski over a mid-town New York parking space. The result was not a laughing matter. Baldwin was criminally charged and pled guilty to harassment in the second degree.

But that was only the beginning. Cieszkowski sued Baldwin for assault, battery, legal fees and slander per se. In addressing a motion to dismiss the slander claim, the Court took a jurisprudential “deep dive” into the law of defamation, slander ( in general) and slander per se (in particular).

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I cannot recall why and when I first started collecting the articles about motorcycle accidents; however, over time, I realized that lawsuits arising from such claims are very common (in retrospect, for obvious reasons, the inherent danger and risk of riding a motorcycle).  The causes raise a broad panoply of issues including proximate cause, helmet design and manufacture; and road and intersection signage and speed limits.  A few recent examples follow:

Caro v. Chesnick, 2017 NY Slip Op 07940 (1st Dept., November 14, 2017)

Supreme Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

The First Department briefly described the facts:

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As we enter the last month of summer, bike riding is on many of our “to do” lists.

Accidents and incidents involving bicycle riding are a fertile source of often complicated and protracted litigation – raising a broad panoply of issues relating, among many others, to the duty of care; violation of the Vehicle and Traffic law; the right of way; and the obligation to maintain public highways, streets and roads.  Several recent examples follow:

Gami v. Cornell Univ., 2018 NY Slip Op 04812 (App. Div 3rd Dept. June 28, 2018) Continue reading

Parking Ticket “Nitpicking”

Even as a “seasoned” (NYU Law ‘69) commercial litigator, I am often surprised by the finite  issues that are subject both to a trial court disposition and, also, to  a subsequent appellate adjudication. A recent decision by the Appellate Division, involving parking violations, falls into that category of (to me) unusually demarcated legal proceedings.  Matter of Nestle Waters North America, Inc. v. City of New York, 2014 NY Slip Op 05609 (1st Dept. July 31, 2014).

Nestle Waters was a “hybrid class action for Article 78 relief, declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and remission of fines unlawfully imposed seeking to, inter alia, annul the determination of respondent Appeals Board of Parking Violations Bureau of the City of New York (The Board).” Continue reading


When is an object in motion not in motion?  The Section 1225-2.c “conundrum” and other VTL issues

Section 1225-c.2.(a) of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, that took effect in late 2001, simply  and clearly states that: 

“Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle upon a public highway while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call  while such vehicle is in motion.”

                         Like so many other statutes and areas of the law, the facial simplicity and clarity of the V&TL provision has nevertheless triggered  a “tsunami” of litigation that has dissected, analyzed and examined almost every word and phrase of the statute. Continue reading