PRICE v. STUDLEY

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

Stuart PRICE and Laurie Wagner-Price, Individually and as Husband and Wife, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. Stephen C. STUDLEY, Defendant-Appellant, et al., Defendants.  (Appeal No. 1.)

Decided: April 28, 2006

PRESENT:  SCUDDER, J.P., KEHOE, SMITH, GREEN, AND PINE, JJ. Bouvier Partnership, LLP, Buffalo (Joshua P. Rubin of Counsel), for Defendant-Appellant. Andrews, Bernstein & Maranto, LLP, Buffalo (Benjamin J. Andrews of Counsel), for Plaintiffs-Respondents.

Plaintiffs commenced this action to recover damages for injuries sustained by Laurie Wagner-Price (plaintiff) when the vehicle she was operating collided with another vehicle in a multi-vehicle accident.   The evidence presented during that part of the bifurcated trial on the issues of negligence and proximate cause established that Stephen C. Studley (defendant) was operating his vehicle in the center lane of the three-lane expressway and that he signaled a lane change and moved from the center lane into the left lane of travel.   In the process, defendant's vehicle collided with a vehicle that was traveling in the left lane and was being operated by defendant Mary Jo Linenfelser (now Mary Jo Soto).   Plaintiff's vehicle was traveling behind Soto's vehicle in the left lane and collided with a vehicle that was traveling behind defendant's vehicle in the center lane.   The jury returned a verdict finding that defendant was negligent and that his negligence was “a substantial factor in causing the collision involving plaintiff's vehicle.”   The jury also found that plaintiff was negligent but that her negligence was not “a substantial factor in causing the collision involving her vehicle.”   Defendant moved to set aside the verdict as against the weight of the evidence insofar as the jury found that defendant's “negligence was a proximate cause of the collision with the [p]laintiff's vehicle” and that plaintiff's negligence was not a proximate cause of the collision.   Supreme Court properly denied defendant's motion.   It cannot be said that “the preponderance of the evidence in favor of [defendant] is so great that the verdict could not have been reached upon any fair interpretation of the evidence” (Dannick v. County of Onondaga, 191 A.D.2d 963, 964, 595 N.Y.S.2d 575;  see Wojcik v. Kent, 21 A.D.3d 1410, 1411-1412, 801 N.Y.S.2d 451;  Guthrie v. Overmyer, 19 A.D.3d 1169, 797 N.Y.S.2d 203;  Shea v. Mazza, 307 A.D.2d 708, 709, 762 N.Y.S.2d 221;  see generally Lolik v. Big V Supermarkets, 86 N.Y.2d 744, 746, 631 N.Y.S.2d 122, 655 N.E.2d 163).   Rather, “the verdict is one that reasonable persons could have rendered after receiving conflicting evidence [and, therefore,] the court [properly refused to] substitute its judgment for that of the jury” (Ruddock v. Happell, 307 A.D.2d 719, 720, 763 N.Y.S.2d 868).

It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from be and the same hereby is unanimously affirmed without costs.

MEMORANDUM: