The Third Department determined the jury in this personal injury action was properly instructed on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. A riser used for a choral rehearsal collapsed as plaintiff was walking on it:
To be entitled to a res ipsa loquitur jury charge, a plaintiff must establish (1) that the injurious event is “of a kind that ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence,” (2) that the event was “caused by an agency or instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant” and (3) that the event was not “due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the plaintiff” … . …
… [A] jury could reasonably conclude that the collapse of a stage riser being put to its intended use qualifies as an event that would not ordinarily occur in the absence of negligence ,,, , … [Plaintiff} … proffered expert testimony demonstrating that the collapse was most likely caused by a flaring of the riser’s locking mechanism, a condition caused by “wear and tear” and which allegedly could have been discovered with proper inspection and maintenance. [P]laintiff’s … expert evidence of negligence did not preclude her from also relying on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur … .
The evidence established that the auditorium was locked whenever it was not in use and that defendant’s agents exclusively assembled, disassembled, maintained and repaired the risers. * * * [ P]laintiff was not required to “conclusively eliminate the possibility” that someone intentionally disengaged the locking mechanism … . Rather, all that was required was that the likelihood of an intentional act “be so reduced that the greater probability lies at defendant’s door” … . Elsawi v Saratoga Springs City Sch. Dist., 2020 NY Slip Op 00019, Third Dept 1-2-20