A Second Department ruling last month affirmed a Suffolk County court’s decision to set aside a jury verdict finding that a defendant bus driver was not negligent in the operation of his vehicle. The jury initially found that the driver, who had been traveling along the shoulder of Montauk Highway and passing cars traveling on the main road, was not negligent. Citing CPLR 4404(a), the court set aside the verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence, and ordered a new trial.
CPLR 4404(a) states that “after a trial of a cause of action or issue triable of right by a jury, upon the motion of any party or on its own initiative, the court may set aside a verdict…and…order a new trial of a cause of action…where the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence, in the interest of justice.” The court asserted that the driver’s actions, as demonstrated by the evidence, was a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1122(a), which deems that drivers must pass on the left when moving in the same direction, except where permitted otherwise. Because a Vehicle and Traffic Law violation is negligence as a matter of law, the court ruled that the jury could not possibly have found for the defendant in this instance.
Go here for the full decision.