FERGUSON v. Rafael Lopez, et al., Defendants.

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

Adriane R. FERGUSON, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. HONDA LEASE TRUST, et al., Defendants-Appellants, Rafael Lopez, et al., Defendants.

Decided: November 28, 2006

BUCKLEY, P.J., TOM, MAZZARELLI, SAXE, McGUIRE, JJ. White & McSpedon, P.C., New York (Tracey Lyn Jarzombek of counsel), for Honda Lease Trust and Lakeisha S. Laws, appellants. Milber Makris Plousadis & Seiden, LLP, Woodbury (Lorin A. Donnelly of counsel), for Tony J. Ward, appellant. Thomas Torto, New York, for respondent.

Order, Supreme Court, Bronx County (Howard R. Silver, J.), entered on or about January 19, 2006, which denied a motion and cross motion by three of the defendants for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, unanimously reversed, on the law, without costs, the motion and cross motion granted, and the complaint dismissed as to Honda Lease Trust, Lakeisha Laws and Tony Ward.   The Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

 This personal injury action arises from a one-lane, five-car collision on the lower span of the George Washington Bridge.   The record evidence establishes that at least the first two cars had come to a complete stop prior to being hit from behind.   Plaintiff's speculation that appellants' vehicles could have been moving or perhaps had stopped suddenly are unsupported by any evidence and are refuted by the movants' affidavits, as well as plaintiff's sworn no-fault statement and the police accident report.   A rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the rear driver (see Garcia v. Bakemark Ingredients [E.], Inc., 19 A.D.3d 224, 797 N.Y.S.2d 467 [2005] ).  “[T]he rearmost driver in a chain-reaction collision bears a presumption of responsibility” (De La Cruz v. Ock Wee Leong, 16 A.D.3d 199, 200, 791 N.Y.S.2d 102 [2005] ).   Movants demonstrated their right to summary judgment, thereby shifting the burden to plaintiff to present some non-negligent explanation to raise a triable issue of fact as to negligence to warrant a trial (see Agramonte v. City of New York, 288 A.D.2d 75, 732 N.Y.S.2d 414 [2001] ).   This plaintiff failed to do so.   We have reviewed appellants' other arguments and find them to be without merit.