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

Joseph J. SMYTH, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. Tracy MURPHY, et al., Defendants–Respondents.


Decided: November 19, 2019

Manzanet–Daniels, J.P., Tom, Kapnick, Gesmer, Singh, JJ. Hasapidis Law Offices, Scarsdale (Annette G. Hasapidis of counsel), for appellant. Wade Clark Mulcahy, LLP, New York (Vivian S. Turetsky of counsel), for respondents.

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Lynn R. Kotler, J.), entered December 5, 2018, which denied plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict in favor of defendants on the issue of liability, unanimously reversed, on the law, without costs, the motion to set aside the verdict granted, a verdict directed in favor of plaintiff on the issue of liability, and the matter remanded for a trial on the issue of damages.

There is no valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences that could possibly support the jury's verdict based on the evidence presented at trial (see Cohen v. Hallmark Cards, 45 N.Y.2d 493, 498–499, 410 N.Y.S.2d 282, 382 N.E.2d 1145 [1978]).  Defendant Tracy Murphy acknowledged that plaintiff's vehicle was stopped when she struck plaintiff's vehicle in the rear.  Murphy's claim that plaintiff had stopped at a yellow light does not constitute a nonnegligent explanation for the accident (see Elihu v. Nicoleau, 173 A.D.3d 578, 104 N.Y.S.3d 616 [1st Dept. 2019];  Matos v. Sanchez, 147 A.D.3d 585, 47 N.Y.S.3d 307 [1st Dept. 2017]).