New York Skier Safety Act
General Obligations Law
ARTICLE 18. SAFETY IN SKIING CODE
NY CLS Gen Oblig Article 18 Note (2012)
Gen Oblig Article 18 Note
Add, L 1988, ch 711, § 1, eff Nov 1, 1988 (see 1988 note below).
Laws 1988, ch 711, § 4, eff Nov 1, 1988, provides as follows:
§ 4. This act shall take effect on November first, nineteen hundred eighty-eight; provided that section 18-106 of the general obligations law, as added by section one of this act, shall take effect on the first day of October, nineteen hundred eighty-nine; and provided further that the commissioner of labor, effective immediately, is authorized and directed to promulgate any and all rules and regulations necessary to the timely implementation of the provisions of this act on their effective dates.
Research References & Practice Aids:
3 NY Jur 2d Amusements and Exhibitions § 30
The legislature hereby finds that alpine or downhill skiing is both a major recreational sport and a major industry within the state of New York. The legislature further finds: (1) that downhill skiing, like many other sports, contains inherent risks including, but not limited to, the risks of personal injury or death or property damage, which may be caused by variations in terrain or weather conditions; surface or subsurface snow, ice, bare spots or areas of thin cover, moguls, ruts, bumps; other persons using the facilities; and rocks, forest growth, debris, branches, trees, roots, stumps or other natural objects or man-made objects that are incidental to the provision or maintenance of a ski facility in New York state; (2) that downhill skiing, without established rules of conduct and care, may result in injuries to persons and property; (3) that it is appropriate, as well as in the public interest, to take such steps as are necessary to help reduce the risk of injury to downhill skiers from undue, unnecessary and unreasonable hazards; and (4) that it is also necessary and appropriate that skiers become apprised of, and understand, the risks inherent in the sport of skiing so that they may make an informed decision of whether or not to participate in skiing notwithstanding the risks. Therefore, the purpose and intent of this article is to establish a code of conduct for downhill skiers and ski area operators to minimize the risk of injury to persons engaged in the sport of downhill skiing and to promote safety in the downhill ski industry.
The following words and phrases when used in this article shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:
1. “Lift ticket” means any item issued by a ski area operator to any skier that is intended to be affixed to the outerwear of the skier, or otherwise displayed by a skier, to signify lawful entry upon and use of the passenger tramways or ski slopes or trails maintained by the ski area operator.
2. “Passenger tramway” means a mechanical device intended to transport skiers for the purpose of providing access to ski slopes and trails as defined by the commissioner of labor pursuant to section two hundred two-c or eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law.
3. “Passenger” means a person in or on or being transported by a tramway.
4. “Ski area” means all ski slopes, ski trails and passenger tramways administered as a single enterprise within this state.
5. “Ski area operator” means a person, firm or corporation, and its agents and employees, having operational and administrative responsibility for any ski area, including any agency of the state, any political subdivision thereof, and any other governmental agency or instrumentality.
6. “Skier” means any person wearing a ski or skis and any person actually on a ski slope or trail located at a ski area, for the purpose of skiing.
7. “Ski slopes and trails” mean those areas designated by the ski area operator for skiing.
Every ski area operator shall have the following duties:
1. To equip all trail maintenance vehicles with such warning implements or devices as shall be specified by the commissioner of labor pursuant to section eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law. Such implements or devices shall be present and operating whenever the vehicle is within the borders of any slope or trail.
2. To post in a location likely to be seen by all skiers signs of such size and color as will enable skiers to have knowledge of their responsibilities under this article.
3. To hold employee training sessions at least once before the beginning of each season, the contents of which shall be specified by the commissioner of labor upon the recommendation of the passenger tramway advisory council, as follows:
a. for operators of trail maintenance equipment concerning the safe operation of such vehicles in the ski area;
b. for passenger tramway attendants concerning the safe operation of passenger tramways;
c. for ski personnel charged with the responsibility of evacuating passengers from passenger tramways concerning proper evacuation techniques; and
d. for all other personnel charged with on-mountain maintenance, inspection or patrol duties as to methods to be used for summoning aid in emergencies.
4. To conspicuously mark with such implements as may be specified by the commissioner of labor pursuant to section eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law, the location of such man-made obstructions as, but not limited to, snow-making equipment, electrical outlets, timing equipment, stanchions, pipes, or storage areas that are within the borders of the designated slope or trail, when the top of such obstruction is less than six feet above snow level.
5. To maintain in a central location at the ski area an information board or boards showing at a minimum the following:
a. the location of tramways, slopes or trails;
b. the status of each trail–open or closed;
c. the location of emergency communications or medical equipment and sites designated by the ski area operator for receipt of notice from skiers pursuant to subdivision thirteen of this section;
d. the relative degree of difficulty of each slope or trail (at a minimum easier, more difficult, most difficult); and
e. the general surface condition of each slope and trail as most recently recorded in the log required to be maintained by subdivision six of this section.
6. To inspect each open slope or trail that is open to the public within the ski area at least twice a day, and enter the results of such inspection in a log which shall be available for examination by the commissioner of labor. The log shall note:
a. the general surface conditions of such trail at the time of inspection (powder, packed powder, frozen granular, icy patches or icy surface, bare spots or other surface conditions);
b. the time of inspection and the name of the inspector;
c. the existence of any obstacles or hazards other than those which may arise from:
(i) skier use;
(ii) weather variations including freezing and thawing; or
(iii) mechanical failure of snow grooming or emergency equipment which may position such equipment within the borders of a slope or trail.
7. To develop and maintain a written policy consistent with the regulations of the commissioner of labor upon the advice of the passenger tramway advisory council for situations involving the reckless conduct of skiers, which shall include, but not be limited to:
a. a definition of reckless conduct; and
b. procedures for approaching and warning skiers of reckless conduct and procedures for dealing with such skiers which may include the revocation of the lift tickets of such skiers.
8. To designate personnel to implement the ski area’s policy on reckless conduct.
9. To report to the commissioner of labor by telephone within twenty-four hours any fatality or injury resulting in a fatality at the ski area.
10. To conspicuously post and maintain such ski area signage, including appropriate signage at the top of affected ski slopes and trails, notice of maintenance activities and for passenger tramways as shall be specified by the commissioner of labor pursuant to section two hundred two-c or eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law.
11. To post in a conspicuous location at each lift line a sign, which shall indicate the degree of difficulty of trails served by that lift with signs as shall be specified by the commissioner of labor pursuant to section two hundred two-c or eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law.
12. To ensure that lift towers located within the boundaries of any ski slope or trail are padded or otherwise protected and that no protruding metal or wood objects, such as ladders or steps, shall be installed on the uphill or side portion of lift towers within the borders of a ski slope or trail, unless such objects are below the snow line, at least six feet above it, or padded or otherwise protected with such devices as, but not limited to, the following:
a. commercially available tower padding;
b. air or foam filled bags;
c. hay bales encased in a waterproof cover; or
d. soft rope nets properly spaced from the tower.
13. To, within a reasonable amount of time after the inspection required by subdivision six of this section, conspicuously mark with such implements as may be specified by the commissioner of labor pursuant to section eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law and to provide sufficient warning to skiers by such marking or remove such obstacles or hazards which are located within the boundaries of any ski slope or trail and were noted pursuant to paragraph c of subdivision six of this section; and to also conspicuously mark with such implements and provide such warning or remove such obstacles or hazards within a reasonable amount of time after receipt of notice by the ski area operator from any skier as to the presence of such obstacles or hazards when notice is given at sites designated by the ski area operator for such receipt and the locations of which are made known to skiers pursuant to paragraph c of subdivision five of this section.
14. To have present at all times when skiing activity is in progress, individuals properly and appropriately trained for the safe operation of on-slope vehicles; trail maintenance equipment; tramways; tramway evacuations; implementation of the reckless skier policy; first aid and outdoor rescue; and, to have present according to a schedule posted for access by skiers, by the ski area operator, personnel appropriately trained in the instruction of skiers and passengers in methods of risk reduction while using ski slopes and passenger tramways and the instruction of skiers with respect to the risks inherent in the sport.
All passengers shall have the following duties:
1. To familiarize themselves with the safe use of any tramway prior to its use;
2. To remain in the tramway if the operation of a passenger tramway, as defined pursuant to section two hundred two-c of the labor law, is interrupted for any reason, until instructions or aid are provided by the ski area operator;
3. To board or disembark from passenger tramways only at points or areas designated by the ski area operator;
4. Not to eject any objects or material from a passenger tramway;
5. To use restraint devices in accordance with posted instructions;
6. To wear retention straps or other devices to prevent runaway skis;
7. Not to interfere with the operation of a passenger tramway;
8. Not to place or caused to be placed on the uphill track of a surface lift any object which may interfere with its normal operation; and
9. Not to wear loose scarves, clothing or accessories or expose long hair which may become entangled with any part of the device.
All skiers shall have the following duties:
1. Not to ski in any area not designated for skiing;
2. Not to ski beyond their limits or ability to overcome variations in slope, trail configuration and surface or subsurface conditions which may be caused or altered by weather, slope or trail maintenance work by the ski area operator, or skier use;
3. To abide by the directions of the ski area operator;
4. To remain in constant control of speed and course at all times while skiing so as to avoid contact with plainly visible or clearly marked obstacles and with other skiers and passengers on surface operating tramways;
5. To familiarize themselves with posted information before skiing any slope or trail, including all information posted pursuant to subdivision five of section 18-103 of this article;
6. Not to cross the uphill track of any surface lift, except at points clearly designated by the ski area operator;
7. Not to ski on a slope or trail or portion thereof that has been designated as “closed” by the ski area operator;
8. Not to leave the scene of any accident resulting in personal injury to another party until such times as the ski area operator arrives, except for the purpose of summoning aid;
9. Not to overtake another skier in such a manner as to cause contact with the skier being overtaken and to yield the right-of-way to the skier being overtaken;
10. Not to willfully stop on any slope or trail where such stopping is likely to cause a collision with other skiers or vehicles;
11. To yield to other skiers when entering a trail or starting downhill;
12. To wear retention straps or other devices to prevent runaway skis;
13. To report any personal injury to the ski area operator before leaving the ski area; and
14. Not to willfully remove, deface, alter or otherwise damage signage, warning devices or implements, or other safety devices placed and maintained by the ski area operator pursuant to the requirements of section 18-103 of this article.
It is recognized that skiing is a voluntary activity that may be hazardous regardless of all feasible safety measures that can be undertaken by ski area operators. Accordingly:
1. Ski area operators shall have the following additional duties:
a. To post at every point of sale or distribution of lift tickets, whether on or off the premises of the ski area operator, a conspicuous “Warning to Skiers” relative to the inherent risks of skiing in accordance with regulations promulgated by the commissioner of labor pursuant to subdivision four of section eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law, and to imprint upon all lift tickets sold or distributed, such text and graphics as the commissioner of labor shall similarly specify, which shall conspicuously direct the attention of all skiers to the required “Warning to Skiers”;
b. To post at every point of sale or distribution of lift tickets at a ski area notice to skiers and passengers that this article prescribes certain duties for skiers, passengers and ski area operators, and to make copies of this article in its entirety available without charge upon request to skiers and passengers in a central location at the ski area;
c. To make available at reasonable fees, as required by subdivision thirteen of section 18-103 of this article, instruction and education for skiers relative to the risks inherent in the sport and the duties prescribed for skiers by this article, and to conspicuously post notice of the times and places of availability of such instruction and education in locations where it is likely to be seen by skiers; and
d. To post notice to skiers of the right to a refund to the purchaser in the form and amount paid in the initial sale of any lift ticket returned to the ski area operator, intact and unused, upon declaration by such purchaser that he or she is unprepared or unwilling to ski due to the risks inherent in the sport or the duties imposed upon him or her by this article.
2. Skiers shall have the following additional duties to enable them to make informed decisions as to the advisability of their participation in the sport:
a. To seek out, read, review and understand, in advance of skiing, a “Warning to Skiers” as shall be defined pursuant to subdivision five of section eight hundred sixty-seven of the labor law, which shall be displayed and provided pursuant to paragraph a of subdivision one of this section; and
b. To obtain such education in the sport of skiing as the individual skier shall deem appropriate to his or her level of ability, including the familiarization with skills and duties necessary to reduce the risk of injury in such sport.
Unless otherwise specifically provided in this article, the duties of skiers, passengers, and ski area operators shall be governed by common law.
If any provision of this article or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this article that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this article are declared to be severable.
1. The [fig 1] commissioner, on the advice of the passenger tramway advisory council as created pursuant to section twelve-c of this chapter, shall promulgate rules and regulations, consistent with article eighteen of the general obligations law, intended to guard against personal injuries to downhill skiers which will, in view of such intent, define the duties and responsibilities of downhill skiers and the duties and responsibilities of ski area operators.
2. The commissioner shall enforce all the provisions of this article and the regulations adopted pursuant hereto and may issue such orders against any entity, public or private, as he finds necessary, directing compliance with any provision of this article or such regulations. The commissioner may also investigate any fatality or injury resulting in a fatality at a ski area.
3. The passenger tramway advisory council shall conduct any investigation necessary to carry out the provisions of this [fig 1] article.
4. The passenger tramway advisory council shall conduct public hearings on any rules and regulations proposed under this section prior to their promulgation by the [fig 1] commissioner. The passenger tramway advisory council shall fix a time and place for each such hearing and cause such notice as it may deem appropriate to be given to the public and news media prior to such a hearing. Testimony may be taken and evidence received at such a hearing pursuant to procedures prescribed by the passenger tramway advisory council.
5. Upon advice of the passenger tramway advisory council, the commission shall, on the fifteenth day of March, nineteen hundred eighty-nine, promulgate rules which shall set forth specifications for the uniform textual and graphic content, physical description, and conspicuous posting of a “Warning to Skiers” regarding the risks inherent in the sport as set forth in section 18-101 of the general obligations law, which shall be posted and provided to skiers by ski areas operators in accordance with subdivision one of section 18-106 of the general obligations law, and shall promulgate rules which shall set forth textual and graphic specifications designed to occupy not more than twenty-five percent of the imprintable surface area of the face side nor more than eighty percent of the imprintable surface area of the reverse side or backing paper of all lift tickets sold or distributed in the state, as defined by section 18-102 of the general obligations law, which shall uniformly serve to direct the attention of all skiers to the “Warning to Skiers” herein directed to be promulgated and required by section 18-106 of the general obligations law.
Eighteen year old girl knocks speeding cyclists over to protect children; Sudden Emergency Doctrine stops suitPosted: May 6, 2013
Pavane v. Marte, 37 Misc. 3d 1216A; 2012 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5128; 2012 NY Slip Op 52060U
Cyclists deserved it to.
This is a lawsuit over an injury a cyclist received when he crashed in New York City. He crashed because an eighteen year old summer enrichment program counselor shoved him over with her “Stop Children Crossing” sign when he failed to stop at a light.
A summer enrichment program is a day camp for kids when parents have to work. The kids are taken on tours, programs, exercise and many involve a lot of outdoor recreation. In this case, the kids with two counselors were walking to a swimming pool. The program was run by the defendant Oasis Children’s Services.
While crossing a street only half the students made it across the street before the light changed. The defendant counselor kept her students back until the light changed again. She then proceeded out to the middle of traffic and held up a sign which said Stop Children Crossing. As the students started to cross she noticed a group of cyclists coming towards the crosswalk. All but one of the cyclists stopped. The one who did not stop was the defendant.
As per the protocol of the program, the counselor was supposed to yell at cyclists who look like they are not going to stop. If the cyclists do not stop a counselor it to put their body between the bicycle and the kids. (That is asking a lot of an 18-year-old kid!)
The light was red; the cyclist was not stopping so the counselor put her body between the kids and the cyclists. The cyclists still did not stop. The counselor waived her sign and yelled at the cyclists. At the last moment, she jumped out of the way, and she pushed the cyclists arm with her sign.
The cyclists sued for negligence that he crashed because a girl pushed him with a sign. The defendants raised the defense of the Sudden Emergency Doctrine.
Summary of the case
The sudden emergency doctrine has many different names and variations across the US. You should check your state to determine if it is available as a defense how the defense is defined. Do not rely on the sudden emergency doctrine to save you, it rarely does.
In New York, the Sudden Emergency Doctrine is defined as:
A common law emergency doctrine is recognized in New York and it applies “when an actor is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance that leaves little or no time for thought, deliberation or consideration, or causes the actor to be reasonably so disturbed that the actor must make a speedy decision without weighing alternative courses of conduct. The actor may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context”.
Basically, it says you can be negligent for the greater good. If your negligence is less than the damage or problem that not being negligent will create, then the Sudden Emergency Doctrine provides you a defense to a negligence claim.
In this case, the court found the actions of the defendant counselor in pushing the cyclists saved the children. “The evidence is credible that Marte [Defendant] pushed Pavane [Plaintiff] from his bicycle in order to prevent children from getting injured.”
Application of the Sudden Emergency Doctrine is a balancing test to some extent. The harm created by the negligent act is less than the harm that would have occurred if the defendant had not acted. 99% of the time only a jury will make the decision, whether your actions where worth it.
As a further little hit, the court held “It is the finding of this Court that Mr. Pavane’s own failure to stop at the red light and yield to children crossing the street was the sole proximate cause of the incident.”
So Now What?
The sad thing is the program had so much experience with cyclist’s running lights; they had developed a program to deal with it.
Cyclists of New York, you should be embarrassed!
The classic case of where the Sudden Emergency Doctrine would work is portrayed in “Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson.
Do not rely on the sudden emergency doctrine as a defense in your program or activity.
Plaintiff: Martin Pavane and Merrill Pavane
Defendant: Samidra Marte, Oasis Community Corporation and Oasis Children’s Services
Plaintiff Claims: Negligence
Defendant Defenses: Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Holding: For the Defendant
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Pavane v. Marte, 37 Misc. 3d 1216A; 2012 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5128; 2012 NY Slip Op 52060U
Martin Pavane and Merrill Pavane, Plaintiff(s), against Samidra Marte, Oasis Community Corporation and Oasis Children’s Services, Defendant(s).
SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, KINGS COUNTY
37 Misc. 3d 1216A; 2012 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5128; 2012 NY Slip Op 52060U
August 9, 2012, Decided
NOTICE: THIS OPINION IS UNCORRECTED AND WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED IN THE PRINTED OFFICIAL REPORTS.
CORE TERMS: summary judgment, bicycle, street, crossing, counselor, emergency, crosswalk, walk, emergency doctrine, triable issues of fact, stop sign, deposition, cyclist, annexed, proximate cause, red light, matter of law, emergency situation, party opposing, affirmative defense, traffic light, reasonableness, deliberation, speculative, unexpected, proceeded, favorable, surprise, sudden, pushed
[*1216A] Negligence–Emergency Doctrine.
JUDGES: [**1] Hon. Bernard J. Graham, Acting Justice.
OPINION BY: Bernard J. Graham
Bernard J. Graham, J.
The captioned lawsuit was commenced by filing of a summons and complaint on or about December 8, 2008, by plaintiffs, Martin Pavane and Merrill Pavane, against defendants Samira Marte (incorrectly identified as “Samidra Marte”), Oasis Community Corporation, and Oasis Children’s Services, LLC. Plaintiffs’ claim is a negligence action against defendants stemming from a fall at Central Park and a derivative claim on behalf of plaintiff, Merrill Pavane.
Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR § 3212 for dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint alleging that there are no triable issues of fact and that defendants are free from liability pursuant to the Emergency Doctrine’.
Defendant Oasis Children’s Services, LLC (“Oasis”) is a company that runs summer enrichment programs for at-risk children in the tri-state area. They have several camp locations in New York City, including one in Central Park.
Defendant Oasis Community Corporation is a named defendant which is ostensibly related to Oasis Children’s Services, LLC.
During the summer of 2008, Oasis hired 18-year-old defendant Samira Marte [**2] (“Marte”) as a camp counselor. On August 22, 2008, Marte and another counselor, Rachel Carrion (“Carrion”), entered Central Park at 96th Street with their campers to reach a swimming pool at 110th Street. Their route required them to cross West Drive.
According to the deposition testimony of Ms. Marte, Rachel Carrion and several children crossed West Drive first. The walk signal changed to “do not walk” before Ms. Marte was able to cross with the rest of the group, so she stayed on the sidewalk with the children to wait for the light to change again. When the signal changed to “walk”, Ms. Marte followed camp guidelines and proceeded to the middle of the crosswalk to hold up her “stop/children crossing” sign. According to the deposition of Richard Thompson McKay, who is an Oasis supervisor and not a named party to the action, Oasis provided protocol training for all camp counselors on how to cross the street. Counselors are instructed to stand in the middle of the street with the stop sign before children may begin to pass. Counselors were also told that if it appears that a cyclist will not stop, then the counselors must first be “loud and verbal” and ask the cyclist to stop. If the [**3] cyclist still does not stop, then counselors must “put [their] body as best as [they] can in between bicyclist and the children that [they] have to protect.” (See Dep. of Richard Thompson McKay, pg. 11-12, annexed as Ex. “H” to the Aff. of Rodney E. Gould in support of motion for summary judgment).
Ms. Marte states that several bicyclists were traveling down West Drive and that all of them stopped for the red light except for “one person that kept going.” (See Dep. of Samira Marte, pg. 60-61, 73-74, annexed as Ex. “F” to the Aff. of Rodney E. Gould in support of motion for summary judgment). Ms. Marte observed the defendant, Martin Pavane (“Pavane”), approaching the red light on his bicycle and alleges that Mr. Pavane did not slow down. Since children were beginning to cross the street, Ms. Marte anticipated that the bicycle would collide with the crossing children and herself. In order to get Mr. Pavane to stop, Ms. Marte first waived her stop sign and yelled for him to stop. When the bicycle still did not stop or slow down, she tried to put herself in between the bicycle and the children by standing in front of the bicycle’s [***2] path. However, Ms. Marte was forced to move aside because [**4] she states that the bicycle was going too fast. She was afraid that the bicycle would run right into her and the children. Ms. Marte states that was the moment she decided to push Mr. Pavane’s arm with the stop sign (Marte Dep. pg. 74-77).
In opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, plaintiffs argue that the defendants failed to include the Emergency Doctrine’ as an affirmative defense in their answer.
However, where the party opposing summary judgment has knowledge of the facts relating to the existence of an emergency and would not be taken by surprise with the use of the emergency defense, the doctrine does not have to be pleaded as an affirmative defense (see Bello v. Transit Auth. of NY City, 12 AD3d 58, 61, 783 N.Y.S.2d 648 (2nd Dept. 2004)). Here, plaintiffs cannot claim that they were taken by surprise by defendants’ emergency defense. The depositions provide full descriptions of facts describing an emergency situation.
A common law emergency doctrine is recognized in New York and it applies “when an actor is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance that leaves little or no time for thought, deliberation or consideration, or causes the actor to be reasonably so [**5] disturbed that the actor must make a speedy decision without weighing alternative courses of conduct. [The] actor may not be negligent if the actions taken are reasonable and prudent in the emergency context”. (Caristo v. Sanzone, 96 NY2d 172, 174, 750 N.E.2d 36, 726 N.Y.S.2d 334 (2001) (citing Rivera v. New York City Tr. Auth., 77 NY2d 322, 327, 569 N.E.2d 432, 567 N.Y.S.2d 629 (1991); see also Marks v. Robb, 90 AD3d 863, 935 N.Y.S.2d 593 (2nd Dept. 2011)). The depositions show that Marte was confronted with a sudden and unexpected emergency circumstance that left her with little time for deliberation. The evidence is credible that Marte pushed Pavane from his bicycle in order to prevent children from getting injured.
Ordinarily, the reasonableness of a party’s response to an emergency situation will present questions of fact for a jury, but it may be determined as a matter of law in appropriate circumstances (Bello v. Transit Auth. of NY City, 12 AD3d at 60; see also Koenig v. Lee, 53 AD3d 567, 862 N.Y.S.2d 373 (2nd Dept. 2008); Vitale v. Levine, 44 AD3d 935, 844 N.Y.S.2d 105 (2nd Dept. 2007)).
In this case, defendants seek an award of summary judgment dismissing the plaintiffs’ claim which would require a determination by this Court that, as a matter of law, the actions taken by Ms. Marte were reasonable [**6] and did not present a question which should be presented to a jury. Although summary judgment is a drastic remedy, a court may grant summary judgment when the moving party establishes that there are no triable issues of material fact (see Rotuba Extruders v. Ceppos, 46 NY2d 223, 385 N.E.2d 1068, 413 N.Y.S.2d 141 (1978); Sillman v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 3 NY2d 395, 144 N.E.2d 387, 165 N.Y.S.2d 498 (1957)).
Rachel Carrion, the co-counselor who is not a named party to the action, testified that she saw Pavane ride his bicycle towards the crosswalk where herself and Marte were crossing the street with children from the Oasis summer camp (see Carrion Dep. pg. 8-9 annexed to Gould [***3] Aff. in support of motion for summary judgment). Carrion testified that Pavane was approaching them “at [a] speed” and “would not stop” (Carrion Dep. pg. 10). The testimony of Ms. Carrion is completely consistent and corroborative of Ms. Marte’s testimony. Ms. Marte stated that Mr. Pavane was not going to stop and was about to hit the four children who were crossing in the crosswalk (Marte Dep. pg 61).
The majority of Pavane’s testimony consists of mere speculative and conclusory assertions because he claims to not recall most details. For example, Pavane did not recall [**7] whether he saw children on the street (see Pavane Dep. pg. 17, annexed to the Aff of Leon Sager in opposition to the motion for summary judgment), but states that “it’s certainly possible there were people there.” (Pavane Dep. pg. 17). Carrion testified that there definitely were children on both sides of the crosswalk and some crossing in the middle before Marte pushed Pavane off his bicycle (Carrion Dep. pg. 11). Pavane also does not recall whether Marte was holding a “stop, children crossing” sign or whether she was waving at him, but he does remember Marte being a young woman in her teens (Pavane Dep. Pg. 17), who was “doing something with her hands at the particular time when she stepped in front of [him]” (Pavane Dep. pg. 18).
In reviewing the offered testimony in support of the motion and the opposition to the motion, the evidence submitted must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion (see Branham v. Loews Orpheum Cinemas, Inc., 8 NY3d 931, 866 N.E.2d 448, 834 N.Y.S.2d 503 (2007)). Even assessing the available evidence in a light most favorable to Mr. Pavane, a neutral reading of the evidence would support a conclusion that Ms. Marte and the children were crossing the street with [**8] the “walk” sign in their favor; that Ms. Marte was positioned with her stop sign at the cross walk; and that Mr. Pavane was cycling into the crosswalk against the traffic light.
While this Court is hesitant to declare the actions of any party in an alleged tort claim to be reasonable as a matter of law, in certain cases, such as this, summary judgment may be appropriate. (see Bello v. Transit Auth. of NY City, 12 AD3d 58, 783 N.Y.S.2d 648 (2004). The actions of the defendant, Marte, must be considered reasonable given the emergency she faced and the potentially harmful consequences to the children she was protecting. It is also apparent that Mr. Pavane proceeded into the intersection against the traffic light and, would fairly be considered to be the proximate cause of his injury. Where it is clear that the plaintiff’s actions were the sole proximate cause of the accident, plaintiff’s mere speculative assertions that defendant may have failed to act properly is insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact to defeat a summary judgment motion. (see Goff v. Goudreau, 222 AD2d 650, 650, 635 N.Y.S.2d 699 (2nd Dept. 1995); Vitale v. Levine, 44 AD3d 935, 844 N.Y.S.2d 105 (2nd Dept. 2007)).
It is the finding of this Court that Mr. Pavane’s [**9] own failure to stop at the red light and yield to children crossing the street was the sole proximate cause of the incident. The actions of the camp counselor, Ms. Marte, in the context of crossing the street with young children who she feared would be injured by the cyclist can only be considered reasonable and appropriate in the given circumstances. Mr. Pavane has not offered evidence which would raise a triable issue of fact as to the reasonableness of Ms. Marte’s actions and to subject the defendants here to the expenses of a trial on this matter would be exceedingly unjust.
Accordingly, defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted and the plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed.
This shall constitute the decision and order of this Court.
Dated: August 9, 2012
Hon. Bernard J. Graham, Acting Justice
Supreme Court, Kings CountyBottom of Form
Harris v Five Point Mission–Camp Olmstedt, 73 A.D.3d 1127; 901 N.Y.S.2d 678; 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4526; 2010 NY Slip Op 4547
Both defendants and plaintiff’s need to understand the standard of care, the limit of liability the defendant will be held accountable too.
In this case from New York, a 13-year-old, called an infant by the court, sued a summer camp for an injury to his leg. While attempting to kick the ball, he and another camper collided and the other camper fell on the plaintiff’s leg. The plaintiff sued the camp for the injury. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied. The defendant appealed the motion and the appellate court overturned the lower court and dismissed the case.
An infant from a legal perspective is not a baby. An infant is anyone under the age of 18, not an adult.
The sole issue was the standard of care, the level of supervision the camp owed to the plaintiff. The court held the standard of care a camp or school owed was not an insurer of the safety of the camper but only liable for foreseeable injuries. Even then those foreseeable injuries must be caused by an absence of adequate supervision.
Schools or camps are not insurers of the safety of their students or campers, as they “cannot reasonably be expected to continuously supervise and control all of their movements and activities” Rather, schools and camps owe a duty to supervise their charges and will only be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately caused by the absence of adequate supervision.
The lack of adequate supervision must relate to the injury. A failure to supervise, which created the foreseeable injury must be the cause of the accident. Additionally, that accident must be one that can be supervised. If the accident occurs in such a manner that supervision could not intervene, then there can be no liability.
Moreover, even if an issue of fact exists as to negligent supervision, liability does not lie absent a showing that such negligence proximately caused the injuries sustained “Where an accident occurs in so short a span of time that even the most intense supervision could not have prevented it, any lack of supervision is not the proximate cause of the injury and summary judgment in favor of the … defendant is warranted”
There was also an issue that the expert witness did not discuss all the issues necessary to prove the camp was liable for the injury. The expert report stated the camp should have provided shin guards, and that shin guards were required. However, the expert did not state that the type of game being played by the plaintiff, an informal summer camp game was held to the same rules as high school games.
The plaintiff’s complaint did not seem to contemplate the level of supervision required from a camp. Like schools, camps are not required to keep kids safe. They are required to do the following.
· Keep kids safe from foreseeable risks
· Adequately supervise kids.
The first is the hardest. Kids can get hurt any and always. Consequently, foreseeable is very hard. However, the easiest way to see foreseeable and for the plaintiff to prove foreseeable is if the accident had occurred previously at your camp or any camp. If you keep track of injuries and accidents, you better do something about each and every one of the reports. A report is proof of foreseeability of a risk.
That is a great reason to attend your trade association meeting or conference. You can learn from other members of your industry or your insurance carrier of the accidents they have had. If you have a similar program, you have been given a gift, you have identified foreseeable before a plaintiff has.
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