Court Grants Summary Judgment to Contractor in Bicycle Accident Case

In a decision dated September 15, 2017, Justice Thomas P. Aliotta granted our client, defendant CCA Civil Inc., summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint against it as a matter of law. The plaintiff claimed that he sustained injuries on November 6, 2012, when he fell off his bicycle while riding on the sidewalk. The left handlebar of his bicycle allegedly struck an orange road sign that had become detached from a wooden frame and was situated on the ground and protruding three to four inches onto the sidewalk. At the time of the accident, a construction project was underway which involved the reconstruction of the Staten Island Expressway along the stretch of Narrows Road where plaintiff’s accident occurred. CCA had a contract with the State of New York Department of Transportation for the Staten Island Expressway project. The Court held that CCA established its prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law by setting forth evidence that the plaintiff was not a party to its contract with the NYSDOT for the reconstruction of the Staten Island Expressway, and therefore owed plaintiff no duty of care. The Court held that assuming arguendo that the pleadings alleged facts which would establish the applicability of various exceptions to the no-duty rule espoused by the leading Court of Appeals decision in Espinal v. Melville Snow Contractors, Inc., 98 N.Y.2d 136, 773 N.E.2d 485, 746 N.Y.S.2d 120 (2002), the plaintiff’s motion papers failed to raise any triable issue of fact that would support an exception to Espinal. The Court found the relevant contract terms, diagrams and drawings clearly depicted that the area in question was not within the boundaries of the work performed by CCA. The Court also found there was no evidence CCA had actual or constructive notice of the alleged defect for a sufficient length of time prior to the accident. The Court further held that plaintiff’s conclusory assertion that CCA had constructive notice of the defective sign was legally insufficient, noting that the plaintiff admitted at his 50-h hearing that he himself did not see the subject sign before his accident. Finally, the Court held that based on plaintiff’s photographs, which he testified fairly and accurately represented the accident site, the orange road sign at issue was readily observable by a reasonable use of the plaintiff’s senses and the condition of the roadway was not inherently dangerous.

Cortes v. City of New York, et al. Index. No 100118/2014 (Richmond Co. Sup. Ct., Sept.15, 2017)

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This post was written by Sander Rothchild