Bryan Schwartz and Krystina Maola Obtain Summary Judgment Pre-Deposition in a Trip and Fall case in Bronx County

February 6, 2020

GVK partner Bryan Schwartz and associate Krystina Maola obtained summary judgment pre-deposition in Supreme Court, Bronx County in a trip and fall claim.

The plaintiff, an employee of New York Presbyterian Hospital, alleged she tripped and fell over a wheelchair lift attached to an ambulette lowered to the ground in preparation for loading a wheelchair patient from the hospital for transport. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained several fractured ribs and soft tissue injuries to her neck and back.  There was also a worker’s compensation lien in excess of $18,000.

In support of the summary judgment motion, we argued the wheelchair lift was not inherently dangerous when situated at the entrance of the hospital and was an open and obvious condition that the plaintiff – a hospital employee – should have clearly noticed prior to the accident. The wheelchair lift, along with its handles, were lined in yellow reflective tape.

In opposition to the motion, the plaintiff provided an affidavit claiming that while she was familiar with ambulances dropping off and picking up patients in the area of her accident, “optical confusion” between the yellow curb and yellow lined edge of the wheelchair lift immediately adjacent to the curb caused her not to see the lift. She further claimed the ambulance driver improperly left the wheelchair lift unattended.

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant prior to depositions. Specifically, the court rejected the plaintiff’s optical confusion argument, holding plaintiff’s inattentiveness caused the accident, and that there is no “industry standard” regarding unattended wheelchair ramps to support her claim.