The Third Department, reversing the Court of Claims, determined the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied to a plastic chair in the recreational room of a state correctional facility. Claimant alleged the back legs of the chair broke off at the same time causing him to fall to the concrete floor:
… [T]he evidence of defendant’s exclusive control, under the circumstances of this case, was sufficiently established … . Indeed, “[a]s a species of circumstantial proof, . . . res ipsa [loquitor] does not depend on a showing that the instrumentality causing the harm was within the defendant’s exclusive control; it is enough that the degree of dominion be such that the defendant can be identified with probability as the party responsible for the injury produced” … .
… [D]efendant was “under an affirmative duty to use reasonable care in making sure that the chair it provided was safe for the purpose for which it was to be used. That [claimant] had temporary possession of the chair does not negate the inference that its sudden collapse, under normal usage, was most likely caused by defendant’s negligence” … . Moreover, defendant, who no doubt had sole and exclusive possession of the chair immediately after the accident, failed to offer any evidence to support an inference of any other possible explanation for the accident … . Draper v State of New York, 2021 NY Slip Op 04163, Third Dept 7-1-21