In a recent motor vehicle accident case before the NYS Appellate Division, Second Department, named Vaz v. New York City Transit Authority, the Court ordered a new trial on liability holding that the trial court improperly permitted the Defendant to introduce previously undisclosed evidence. During cross-examination of the Plaintiff, the trial court allowed the Defendant to introduce into evidence a “Motor Vehicle Accident Form” (an MV104 form), prepared by the Plaintiff at her physician’s office shortly after the accident. The purpose was to impeach the Plaintiff’s credibility as to her version of how the car accident occurred.
The Appellate Division ruled that the Supreme Court improperly permitted the Defendant to introduce the MV104 into evidence since the Defendant obtained the document prior to the commencement of the action and failed to disclose it to Plaintiff during discovery. The Court reasoned that “contrary to the Supreme Court’s conclusion, the Defendant was required to disclose the MVA form, which constituted the Plaintiff’s ‘own statement’ (CPLR 3101[e]), upon the Plaintiff’s demand prior to trial (see CPLR 3101[a], [e]).” Instead, Defendant withheld the document until the middle of the trial; and could not offer an excuse for its failure to produce the document earlier. Because the central issue in the trial was the respective parties’ credibility, this error could not be considered harmless. As such, the Second Department reversed determining that the Supreme Court should have granted that branch of the Plaintiff’s motion to set aside the verdict and to commence a new trial on the issue of liability.