GARCIA v. <<

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

Ramon GARCIA, Plaintiff, v.

BAKEMARK INGREDIENTS (EAST) INC., et al., Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. ELJ Freight Systems, et al., Third-Party Defendants-Appellants.

Decided: June 21, 2005

BUCKLEY, P.J., SAXE, ELLERIN, NARDELLI, WILLIAMS, JJ. Friedberg & Raven, LLP, New York (Kenneth S. Ross of counsel), for appellants. Burke, Lipton, Puleo, McCarthy & Gordon, White Plains (Robert A. McCarthy of counsel), for respondents.

Order, Supreme Court, Bronx County (Norma Ruiz, J.), entered October 13, 2004, which, insofar as appealed by third-party defendants, denied their cross motion for summary judgment dismissing the third-party complaint, unanimously reversed, on the law, without costs, the cross motion granted and the third-party complaint dismissed.   The Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

 This is an action for personal injuries allegedly sustained when plaintiff, having brought his vehicle to a stop behind third-party defendants' truck, was rear-ended by a vehicle owned and operated by defendants/third-party plaintiffs, propelling plaintiff's automobile into the truck in front of him.   Here, two vehicles were allegedly rear-ended.   It is well settled that the driver of a motor vehicle must maintain a safe distance between his vehicle and the one in front of him, and that a rear-end collision with a stopped vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the driver who strikes the vehicle in front (Johnson v. Phillips, 261 A.D.2d 269, 271, 690 N.Y.S.2d 545 [1999] ), unless the operator of the rear vehicle can come forth with an adequate, non-negligent explanation for such accident (Grimes-Carrion v. Carroll, 13 A.D.3d 125, 126, 787 N.Y.S.2d 6 [2004] ).   In this case, while plaintiff and defendants dispute whether defendants rear-ended plaintiff, there is no factual dispute regarding any negligence on the part of third-party defendants.   There was no testimony that third-party defendants' vehicle had cut off plaintiff's automobile.   Third-party defendants were able to rely on the presumption of negligence as to the vehicles behind their truck, plaintiff's evidentiary submissions were consistent with those of third-party defendants', and defendants failed to overcome the presumption of negligence.