Emergency Doctrine Precluded Action on Behalf of Driver of Car Which Crossed Into On-Coming Lane of Traffic; ”Noseworthy” Doctrine Did Not Apply to Reduce Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Burden of Proof
The Fourth Department reversed Supreme Court and granted summary judgment to defendant who was struck when plaintiff’s decedent’s on-coming car crossed into defendant’s lane. The court determined the “Noseworthy” rule (lowering the plaintiff’s burden of proof) did not apply and the emergency doctrine precluded recovery:
Under the emergency doctrine, “ ‘when [a driver] is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance which leaves little or no time for thought, deliberation or consideration, or causes [the driver] to be reasonably so disturbed that [he or she] must make a speedy decision without weighing alternative courses of conduct, the [driver] may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context, provided the [driver] has not created the emergency’ ” … . It is well established that a driver is “not required to anticipate that [a] vehicle, traveling in the opposite direction, [will] cross over into his [or her] lane of travel” … .
Here, defendants met their initial burden by establishing that the emergency doctrine applied, inasmuch as they established that decedent’s vehicle unexpectedly crossed over into defendant’s lane of travel, defendant had been operating his vehicle in a lawful and prudent manner, and defendant had little time to react to avoid the collision … . Although “it generally remains a question for the trier of fact to determine whether an emergency existed and, if so, whether the [driver’s] response was reasonable” …, we conclude that summary judgment is appropriate here because defendants presented “sufficient evidence to establish the reasonableness of [defendant’s] actions [in an emergency situation] and there is no opposing evidentiary showing sufficient to raise a legitimate question of fact”… . Shanahan… v Mackowiak…, 1105, 4th Dept 11-8-13