The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined the city’s motion for summary judgment in this intersection pedestrian traffic accident case should not have been granted. Infant plaintiff, the eight years old, attempted to cross the street, Avenue J, to get on his school bus when he was struck by a vehicle. The city submitted evidence that a studies of the intersection had been done which found that no traffic control device was required. Therefore, the city argued, and Supreme Court agreed, it was entitled to qualified immunity precluding suit:
… [I]n the field of traffic design engineering, the [governmental body] is accorded a qualified immunity from liability arising out of a highway planning decision” … . Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, a governmental body may not be held liable for a highway safety planning decision unless its study of the traffic condition is plainly inadequate or there is no reasonable basis for its traffic plan . Immunity will apply only “where a duly authorized public planning body has entertained and passed on the very same question of risk as would ordinarily go to the jury” … .
Here, the City failed to sustain its prima facie burden on the issue of qualified immunity. The City established that, in response to citizen complaints, it had conducted studies of the subject intersection in 2005 and 2007 and concluded that no traffic control device on Avenue J was warranted. However, the City did not establish that those studies, which took place in the summertime, were conducted at times when the subject schools were in session. The City also failed to establish that the studies addressed the specific concern of schoolchildren crossing Avenue J to reach awaiting buses and, thus, did not establish that it had entertained and passed on the very same question of risk that is at issue in this case … . Tyberg v City of New York, 2019 NY Slip Op 05177, Second Dept 6-26-19