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

Robert CUTSOGEORGE, Appellant, v. The HERTZ CORPORATION, et al., Respondents.

Decided: May 27, 1997

Before BRACKEN, J.P., and O'BRIEN, SANTUCCI, FRIEDMANN and GOLDSTEIN, JJ. Sandback, Birnbaum & Michelen, Mineola (Oscar Michelen, of counsel), for appellant. Rivkin, Radler & Kremer, Uniondale (Evan H. Krinick and Stuart M. Bodoff, of counsel), for respondents Bronwyn Dawson and Alfred Seaforth. Robert P. Sweeney, Uniondale (Paul Robertson, of counsel), for respondent Richard Timmes.

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Lerner, J.), dated August 21, 1996, which denied his motion for a unified trial on the issues of liability and damages.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with one bill of costs to the respondents appearing separately and filing separate briefs.

 As a general rule, questions of liability and damages in a negligence action represent distinct and severable issues which should be tried and determined separately (see, CPLR 603;  Rothbard v. F.W. Woolworth Co., 233 A.D.2d 434, 650 N.Y.S.2d 282;  Martinez v. Town of Babylon, 191 A.D.2d 483, 594 N.Y.S.2d 357;  Armstrong v. Adelman Automotive Parts Distrib. Corp., 176 A.D.2d 773, 575 N.Y.S.2d 101;  see also, 22 NYCRR 202.42).   It is only where the nature of the injuries sustained has an important bearing on the issue of liability that a joint trial on both issues is permitted (see, Dulin v. Maher, 200 A.D.2d 707, 607 N.Y.S.2d 67;  Amato v. Hudson Country Montessori School, 185 A.D.2d 803, 586 N.Y.S.2d 635).   Here, the plaintiff failed to show a need to introduce evidence of the injuries he suffered in order to establish liability.   Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly denied his application for a unified trial (see, Dulin v. Maher, supra).


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