Motor Vehicle Accident: Law v. Romano (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Niagara Co.)
December 31, 2017
In Law, the plaintiff, a passenger in Frank Galloway’s vehicle, brought claims against Mr. Galloway and Mr. Romano for injuries sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident at an intersection controlled by a four-way stop sign in the City of Niagara Falls. Despite Mr. Romano’s presence at the intersection being confirmed by two credible non-party witnesses (i.e., a Niagara Falls Police Officer and Fire Department Battalion Chief, who were incidentally stopped at the same intersection when the accident occurred), Mr. Galloway admitted he never saw Mr. Romano’s vehicle prior to the impact. Mr. Galloway and Mr. Romano asserted cross-claims against each other, each claiming the accident occurred a result of the other’s negligence.
In a bifurcated trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Galloway, finding Mr. Romano was 100% negligent in causing the accident. Despite Mr. Galloway’s failure to see Mr. Romano’s vehicle before proceeding into the intersection, the jury found that Mr. Galloway’s negligence was not a substantial factor in causing the accident because Mr. Galloway nonetheless had the right-of-way under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1142(a). Witness testimony and the point of impact on Mr. Galloway’s rear door established that Mr. Galloway had arrived at the intersection prior to Mr. Romano and entered the intersection prior to Mr. Romano, and that Mr. Romano was required to yield the right-of-way to Mr. Galloway as a matter of law.