AFFIDAVITS IDENTIFYING THE CAUSE OF PLAINTIFF’S FALL, SUBMITTED IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED ON CREDIBILITY GROUNDS; IN THE CONTEXT OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT, THE COURT’S FUNCTION DOES NOT INCLUDE THE ASSESSMENT OF CREDIBILITY.
In this slip and fall case, the Second Department determined Supreme Court should not have rejected affidavits submitted by the plaintiff in opposition to a summary judgment motion because of inconsistencies. The affidavits were from witnesses who saw plaintiff fall and who were able to identify the cause of plaintiff’s fall. In the context of a summary judgment motion, assessing credibility is not the court’s function:
Here, the defendant established, prima facie, his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by submitting the deposition testimony of the plaintiff, which demonstrated that she was unable to identify the cause of her fall … . However, in opposition to the defendant’s prima facie showing on this ground, the plaintiff raised a triable issue of fact. The plaintiff’s submissions included affidavits from two individuals who witnessed the accident and identified the cause of her fall … . The Supreme Court erred in rejecting these two eyewitness affidavits on the ground that they gave inconsistent accounts of the accident. “It is not the court’s function on a motion for summary judgment to assess credibility” …, and any inconsistencies in the affidavits of the two eyewitnesses did not render them both incredible as a matter of law, but rather, raised issues of credibility to be resolved by the factfinder … . McRae v Venuto, 2016 NY Slip Op 00944, 2nd Dept 2-10-16
NEGLIGENCE (AFFIDAVITS OFFERED IN OPPOSITION TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED ON CREDIBILITY GROUNDS)/CIVIL PROCEDURE (AFFIDAVITS OFFERED IN OPPOSITION TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED ON CREDIBILITY GROUNDS)/EVIDENCE (AFFIDAVITS OFFERED IN OPPOSITION TO SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED ON CREDIBILITY GROUNDS)