Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Motor Vehicle Action Against Tractor-Trailer Owner and Driver

In a decision dated July 12, 2022, the Hon. Ulysses B. Everett of Queens County Supreme Court granted the motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint brought by our clients, Midnight Trucking, LLC (“Midnight Trucking”) and Michael A. Zizzo, the owner and operator of a tractor-trailer, respectively. In this motor vehicle action, the plaintiff alleged that he had stopped his vehicle at a yield sign at the end of an exit ramp and was waiting for traffic to clear when the tractor-trailer, traveling in the lane closest to him, struck the front passenger side door of his vehicle. The plaintiff claimed he did not see the 80-foot-long tractor-trailer before the collision and he could not explain how the collision occurred. The tractor-trailer had three mounted cameras and the video footage contradicted the plaintiff’s account of the accident. In support of the motion, we submitted an affidavit from Mr. Zizzo attesting to the circumstances of the accident and an affidavit from Midnight Trucking’s IT manager authenticating the video footage. We also submitted an affidavit from an engineering and biomechanical expert, who opined that the plaintiff had a clear and unobstructed view of the tractor-trailer at all times prior to the accident. This was based on the majority of the tractor-trailer having been stopped past the yield sign at the time when the plaintiff’s vehicle arrived at the end of the exit ramp. The expert also opined that the collision occurred when the plaintiff’s vehicle moved forward and struck the rear portion of the tractor-trailer.

The Court concluded that the defendants established their prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law because the plaintiff entered the tractor-trailer’s lane of travel without yielding to the defendants’ right of way, in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law §§1142(b) and 1172(b), and the plaintiff’s negligence was the sole proximate cause of the collision. The Court held that the plaintiff did not raise a material issue of fact because his contention that the tractor-trailer sideswiped his vehicle was contradicted by the videographic evidence and the analysis of the defendants’ expert, and the plaintiff failed to prove that the driver of the tractor-trailer could have done anything differently to avoid the collision.

Claudy Hyppolite v. Midnight Trucking, LLC et al., Index No. 715056/2018 (Sup. Ct. Queens Co., July 12, 2022)

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This post was written by Sander Rothchild