The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Renwick, over a two-justice dissenting opinion, determined defendant had raised a question of fact whether the emergency defense applied in a rear-end collision. The defendant, in an affidavit in opposition to plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, alleged an unidentified car suddenly turned into his path causing him to swerve and ultimately strike the back of plaintiff’s car. The dissent argued the accident could only have occurred because of defendant’s negligence:
We find that plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a prima facie showing of their entitlement to partial summary judgment on liability. A rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle creates a prima facie showing of negligence on the part of the rear driver … . Similarly, a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1129(a), which obligates drivers to maintain safe distances between their cars and cars in front of them, and be aware of traffic conditions, including vehicle stoppages, is prima facie evidence of negligence … .
Defendants opposed, arguing that summary judgment was not warranted, because they had a valid emergency doctrine defense, which would preclude a summary finding of liability against them. The emergency doctrine recognizes that “when an actor is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance which leaves little or no time for thought, deliberation or consideration, or causes the actor to be reasonably so disturbed that the actor must make a speedy decision without weighing alternative courses of conduct, the actor may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context,” provided the actor had not created the emergency … . Maisonet v Roman, 2016 NY Slip Op 02725, 1st Dept 4-7-16