In a matter tried before Judge Arlene Bluth of the Supreme Court, New York County, Mr. Vitucci obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a driver and bus company against claims brought by a commercial truck driver, that at the time of the accident, was parked near the intersection of 55th and 11th Avenue in New York City. The case was disputed on both liability and damages. In view of the complicated damages picture, including several prior accidents which resulted in injuries to various body parts and the possibility of a very lengthy trial, the Court presented the option to bifurcate the trial. The parties agreed and the case proceeded to trial on liability only. Plaintiff’s pretrial settlement demand was $450,000. Plaintiff claimed injuries to his shoulder, neck and back and underwent surgery.
The matter arose from an accident that occurred on June 1, 2011 at the intersection of 11th Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan. Defendant bus driver had dropped off student passengers for a day trip in Manhattan prior to the accident. On his way to pick up the passengers, proceeding southbound in the right-hand lane past plaintiff’s parked truck, the right rear of the defendant’s bus made contact with plaintiff’s driver’s side door.
It was the testimony of plaintiff that upon parking his vehicle, he had opened his driver side door of his truck to obtain a glove. He further testified that prior to opening the door, he had looked towards the southbound traffic coming towards him to make sure that conditions were safe. It was further the testimony of plaintiff that the door had been opened for roughly 45 seconds before the right rear of defendant’s bus, which was proceeding southbound, made contact to plaintiff’s door. Plaintiff had testified that he had looked for oncoming traffic before opening the door and at that time, did not see our client’s bus on the roadway.
Upon cross-examination during trial, plaintiff admitted that opening a door into traffic on the roadway was unsafe. He also admitted that the rules applicable to commercial drivers specifically prohibited opening the door of a truck into the traveled portion of the roadway when it was not safe to do so and that such conduct, if it occurred, was in fact a violation of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. Following a 10-minute deliberation, the jury issued a verdict in favor of the defense.