New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ESPINOLA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-033-165, Claim No. 109002, Motion No. M-70474


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2005-033-165
Claimant(s):
AIDA ESPINOLA, as Administratrix of the goods, chattels and credits which were of ANNA LISA BRUNO, deceased
Claimant short name:
ESPINOLA
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
109002
Motion number(s):
M-70474
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
James J. Lack
Claimant’s attorney:
Siben & Siben, LLP
Defendant’s attorney:
Elliot Spitzer, New York State Attorney General
Keller, O’Reilly & Watson, P.C., Of CounselBy: Nicholas R. Capece, Jr., Esq.
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
December 21, 2005
City:
Hauppauge
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

This is a claim by Aida Espinola (hereinafter "claimant") as Administratrix of the goods, chattels and credits which were of Anna Lisa Bruno (hereinafter “decedent”) for the wrongful death of decedent resulting from an accident which occurred on June 9, 2002, at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Veteran’s Memorial Highway (State Route 454), Ronkonkoma, New York.

Decedent was a passenger in a vehicle traveling southbound on Ocean Avenue. As decedent’s vehicle entered the intersection, it was struck by a vehicle driven by Sean Lewis, who was traveling westbound on Veteran’s Memorial Highway. According to the claim, the traffic light was malfunctioning, and the instant action was brought for defendant’s failure to maintain and inspect the signal.

Defendant moves to dismiss the claim pursuant to CPLR §3212[1]. Defendant argues that there is no issue of fact as to the issue of liability. According to the defendant, Sean Lewis passed a steady red light and was the sole proximate cause of the accident.

In support of its motion, defendant submits the Traffic Maintenance Records (Exhibit G); the Single Signal Maintenance Report (Exhibit H); the Dispatch Report for Single Signals (Exhibit I); the Police Accident Report (Exhibit L); the Police Death Report (Exhibit M); witness statements (Exhibit P); the depositions of the Department of Transportation mechanics Paul Thomas and John Elefterion (Exhibits J & K); and an affidavit from John Elefterion (Exhibit Q). A fair reading of these exhibits shows that nothing more than routine maintenance was done by defendant at the signal in question prior to the accident. As to the accident, it appears that Mr. Lewis entered the intersection against a red light and struck the vehicle decedent was riding in.

Claimant submits no opposition to the motion.

Summary judgment is a drastic remedy which deprives a party of its day in court and should not be granted where there is any doubt as to the existence of a material issue of fact (Moskowitz v Garlock, 23 AD2d 943; Epstein v Scally, 99 AD2d 713). The Court's function is to determine if an issue exists. In doing so, the Court must examine the proof in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Summary judgment may only be granted if movant provides evidentiary proof in admissible form to demonstrate that there are no questions of fact (Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Center, 64 NY2d 851; Wanger v Zeh, 45 Misc 2d 93, aff'd 26 AD2d 729). Once the movant has demonstrated a prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law, the burden shifts to the opposing party to submit evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to create an issue of fact or demonstrate an acceptable excuse for his failure to submit such proof (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320). Mere conclusions, speculation or expressions of hope are insufficient to defeat the motion (Amatulli v Delhi Constr. Corp., 77 NY2d 525).

Using the facts previously presented, the State has presented the Court with credible evidence in admissible form to shift the burden to claimant. Claimant has not met her burden of submitting evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to create an issue of fact or demonstrate an acceptable excuse for her failure to submit such proof.

Accordingly, the Court grants defendant’s motion for summary judgment, pursuant to CPLR §3212, and dismisses the claim. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close the file.


December 21, 2005
Hauppauge, New York
HON. JAMES J. LACK
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1].The following papers have been read and considered on defendant’s motion: Notice of Motion dated July 26, 2005 and filed July 28, 2005; Affirmation in Support of Motion of Nicholas R. Capece, Jr., Esq. with annexed Exhibits A-Q dated July 26, 2005 and filed July 28, 2005.