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.
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  ), 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  ). 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.