The Second Department determined the allegations that defendants were operating a tree-trimming business without a license and negligently entrusted the tree-trimming to one Perez (with whom plaintiff worked) were not proximate causes of the injury. Plaintiff caught a ring on his finger on a spike on a metal step on the truck and his finger was severed. The court noted that the danger was open and obvious and the accident was an ‘extraordinary occurrence’ so there was no duty to warn:
“Evidence of negligence is not enough by itself to establish liability. It must also be proved that the negligence was [a proximate] cause of the event which produced the harm”… . Thus, ” liability may not be imposed upon a party who merely furnishes the condition or occasion for the occurrence of the event but is not one of its causes'” … . Further, “proximate cause is no less essential an element of liability because the negligence charged is premised in part or in whole on a claim that a statute or ordinance . . . has been violated” … .
… [E]ven if the defendants were negligent in operating a tree-trimming business without a license or in lending or renting or entrusting the truck to Perez, such negligent acts only furnished the occasion for the plaintiff’s accident … , but were not a proximate cause of the accident. The defendants additionally demonstrated, prima facie, that they did not have any “special knowledge concerning a characteristic or condition peculiar to [Perez] which render[ed] [his] use of the [truck] unreasonably dangerous,” as is required to establish a negligent entrustment cause of action … . In opposition, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to either negligence or negligent entrustment.
With respect to the cause of action alleging a violation of the defendants’ duty to warn, the defendants demonstrated … that any danger posed by the stairs was open and obvious and known to the plaintiff from his prior use of the truck … . Moreover, the plaintiff’s accident was an “extraordinary occurrence” … . “[T]here is no duty to warn against an extraordinary occurrence, which would not suggest itself to a reasonably careful and prudent person as one which should be guarded against”… . Deschamps v Timberwolf Tree & Tile Serv., 2019 NY Slip Op 04133, Second Dept 5-29-19