This is a summary of the decision of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Nassau County on a motion for summary judgment submitted by BNJ Granite/Cabinets last March 7, 2011. BNJ Granite/Cabinets and Innovative Stone were charged with negligence and failing to provide its employees with a safe work site and working conditions. This negligence was alleged to be the cause of the truck accident in which Michael Tyson was injured.
On January 12, 2009, Michael Tyson of the Bronx was injured as he was working in BNJ Granite’s granite manufacturing business site in Holbrook, New York. Tyson was hired by Innovative Stone to transport two slabs of granite, around 6 feet by 10 feet and weighing 900 pounds, in his truck. The slabs were to be placed on the flatbed of his truck with an A-frame support to hold the slabs in place. The A-frame was assembled by two BNJ Granite employees. The slabs would be then be lifted by a forklift onto the truck and into the frame.
One of the BNJ employees, under Tyson’s guidance, lifted the first granite slab and positioned it on the surface of the truck. He did the same with the second slab when suddenly, it fell from the A-frame into where Tyson was. Tyson had been laying wooden planks on the truck’s base to cushion the granite and prevent it from breaking. The slab landed on both his legs and crushed them. He had to have three surgeries and both legs amputated.
According to BNJ granite, because Tyson was directly involved in loading the slab onto the truck and in guiding the direction of the second slab, he was liable for the truck accident. Tyson argued that in the testimony of the employee who had controlled the forklift, he was not sure if the slab was positioned correctly when he lowered it onto the A-frame. Therefore, since there was a possibility of BNJ’s employee being the cause of the accident, BNJ Granite was not entitled to move for summary judgment. The Court also finds that even though Tyson could have contributed to the accident, there was an element of comparative negligence and BNJ cannot be found completely innocent.
The party which submits the motion for summary judgment must establish first that it is entitled to judgment and must offer enough evidence to show that there are no unresolved factual issues in the case. The other party must then provide evidence that there are still unresolved factual issues.
Now, let’s discuss the main charge against BNJ Granite of Brooklyn. An individual suing for common-law negligence must prove that there is a duty owed by the defendant against him, that there was a breach of that duty, and that that breach caused the injury. In order to see whether the defendant has a duty against the prosecutor, the court checks whether the relationship gives rise to a duty of care and whether the harm could have been foreseen.
Even where there is no original duty, if the defendant performs an act for the benefit of the prosecutor, it must be done carefully and with the safety of the prosecutor in mind. In this case, even though there was no original duty owed to him by BNJ Granite, the company loaded the granite onto the truck for Tyson’s benefit. Its employee was aware that Tyson was at the back of the truck and should have been more careful in loading the slabs, considering their size and weight.
Now that BNJ Granite’s duty to Tyson has been established, it must show that the breach of this duty was not the direct cause of the truck accident that led to Tyson’s injuries. In this matter however there are triable issues as to whether the employee was negligent in loading the slab and whether this negligence caused the accident. Because the accident happened very quickly, neither the employee nor Tyson remembered the facts and circumstances surrounding it. In instances like this, the truth of the issues are usually determined through a trial and cannot be decided on in a summary judgment. The Court therefore denied BNJ’s Granite motion for a summary judgment.
Being involved in a personal injury case can be a very difficult experience. You rack up hospital bills and legal fees while not even receiving pay, if your injuries prevent you from going to work. In times like this, you need a great lawyer to fight out your case for you. Stephen Bilkis & Associates can give you advice and support and recommend excellent lawyers.
Contact them at their office in Corona or in their many other offices around metropolitan New York.