Basing its ruling on NY Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1142(a), the Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department recently upheld summary judgment granted to the defendant after a Brooklyn car accident. The undisputed facts of the case paint a fairly clear picture of what transpired during the accident. At an intersection, the plaintiff was subject to a stop sign, while the defendant was not. The plaintiff collided with the defendant in the middle of the intersection. Although there was disagreement between the plaintiff and defendant as to whether or not the plaintiff actually stopped at the stop sign, the court ruled that this was immaterial.
Section 1142(a) of the NY Vehicle and Traffic Law states that “[E]xcept when directed to proceed by a police officer, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop as required by section eleven hundred seventy-two and after having stopped shall yield the right of way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on said highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when such driver is moving across or within the intersection.” Thus, according to the court, whether or not the plaintiff stopped at the stop sign, as well as for how long she stopped, had no bearing on the court’s decision. Because the defendant, without a stop sign, was under no obligation to stop or yield, and because the plaintiff’s vehicle did in fact strike the defendant’s vehicle, as a matter of law the plaintiff was negligent. Despite there being a fact in dispute (whether or not the plaintiff stopped at the stop sign), the court did not deem it a triable issue of fact because of the plaintiff’s legal responsibilities under VTL 1142(a).
The Appellate Division’s decision can be found here:
2012 NY Slip Op 05901