Santana v. MTA Bus Company, 2016 NY Slip Op 05450 (1st Dept., 7-7-2016), Illegally Parked UPS Truck Contributed to Bicyclist Struck
In Santana v. MTA Bus Company, 2016 NY Slip Op 05450 (1st Dept., 7-7-2016), the plaintiff was a bicyclist riding on Asch Loop in the eastbound direction, as he approached the intersection of Adler Place, in the Bronx, New York on November 21, 2012. As he neared the intersection, he was struck by an MTA bus that was also traveling in an easterly direction on Asch Loop.
At the time of the accident, there were parked vehicles adjacent to the curb alongside Asch Loop, and further, there were several double-parked vehicles in the travel lane on Asch Loop, forcing him to maneuver his bicycle around the vehicles to the left. The operator of the MTA bus, Mr. Corlett, testified he observed plaintiff riding his bicycle about a bus length ahead of him on Asch Loop, and further saw a UPS truck parked near the traffic light ahead at the intersection.
He testified the parked UPS truck extended out into the travel lane of Asch Loop about "half the lane." The bus driver testified that in order to make sure the bicycles "had enough space" he moved the MTA bus over to the left side, and eventually was straddling the double yellow lines on Asch Loop. However, the MTA bus continued to travel up to 15MPH as he passed the bicyclist and the two collided after the bicyclist veered to the left to swerve away from the illegally parked UPS vehicle.
The driver of the UPS vehicle was not inside the vehicle at the time of the accident, but returned to his vehicle sometime after to see the police officers and ambulance at the scene. He testified that the UPS vehicle was parked in a no-standing zebra-striped area. Once the MTA supervisor arrived at the scene, he took photographs of the vehicles involved, which included a photograph of the UPS truck parked in a no-standing zone.
As both plaintiff's counsel and counsel for the MTA argued on the motions, this is a violation of 34 RCNY 4-08(a)(3), as the UPS truck was not unloading persons or packages. The UPS truck driver admitted that he parked the UPS truck and was outside delivering packages for over 30 minutes, when he returned after the accident to retrieve more packages.
The defense submitted an accident reconstructionist expert to provide an "expert opinion" as to the positioning of the vehicles and cause of the accident.
The trial court denied the defendant's UPS motion seeking dismissal of the complaint, and opined: "Issues of fact to be determined by a trier of fact clearly exist which preclude this Court from granting summary judgment at this time. It is undisputed that evidence exists that the UPS truck was parked illegally and that it protruded into the travel lane. The testimony by the plaintiff-biker and Mr. Corlett created an issue of fact as to how the accident occurred and it is well within the jury's province to reject UPS's expert's opinion as to how the accident occurred."
The defendant UPS appealed to the Appellate Division, First Department and they affirmed the trial court's decision. The Appellate Division opined: "Defendant UPS argues that, although its truck was parked in a no-standing zone in violation of 34 RCNY 4-08(a)(3) at the time of the accident involving plaintiff's bicycle and defendant MTA's bus, its truck was not a proximate cause of the accident. However, the record presents issues of fact as to how far the UPS truck was protruding into the lane of travel, whether plaintiff swerved toward the bus in an effort to avoid the UPS truck, and whether plaintiff was forced to jump from his bicycle in order to avoid being slammed into the UPS truck as his bicycle was being dragged by the bus. Since a reasonable factfinder could conclude that the accident was a foreseeable consequence of UPS's illegal parking, summary judgment was properly denied (see Pickett v Verizon N.Y. Inc., 129 AD3d 641 [1st Dept 2015]; White v Diaz, 49 AD3d 134, 139 [1st Dept 2008])."
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