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February 2019

Gordon & Rees New York Products Liability Team Defeats a Plaintiff’s Bid to New York’s Highest Court

New York partner Erik C. DiMarco and associate Mohammad M. Haque of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani obtained a victory on behalf of one of the world’s largest elevator manufacturers before New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, successfully opposing a plaintiff’s bid for leave to appeal the grant of summary judgment to the firm's client.

The plaintiff alleged she sustained personal injuries when she was purportedly hit by a closing elevator door inside a hotel. The plaintiff sued, naming the elevator manufacturer and the hotel as defendants. On summary judgment, the elevator manufacturer moved for summary judgment arguing there was no malfunction in the elevator doors or detectors when it came in contact with the plaintiff.  The elevator manufacturer further argued that even assuming there was a malfunction in the elevator doors or detectors, there was no actual or constructive notice of such defect. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the elevator manufacturer. The plaintiff then moved to renew and reargue, but the trial court affirmed its findings. The plaintiff then appealed, as of right, the decision to the Appellate Division, Second Department.  The Appellate Division, after argument and review of the papers and underlying decision, affirmed the trial court, finding the decision to grant summary judgment was proper.

The plaintiff then sought review by the New York Court of Appeals. The plaintiff moved for leave to appeal on the basis that the Second Department made factual determinations, rather than allowing these questions of fact to be determined by the jury. Gordon & Rees' attorneys vigorously opposed the plaintiff’s motion, arguing that the plaintiff failed to proffer any viable argument as to how the determinations of the courts below significantly deviate from precedent.  DiMarco and Haque further argued that the plaintiff failed to proffer any viable argument that the issues to be determined by the Court of Appeal were novel or of public importance warranting review by the Court of Appeals. Finally, DiMarco and Haque argued that there was sufficient evidence in the record for the courts below to render a determination, as a matter of law, that the elevator did not malfunction when the alleged accident occurred.

On December 13, 2018, the Court of Appeals found in favor of Gordon & Rees' client, denying the plaintiff’s motion for leave to appeal, bringing the substance of the case to a close.  The Court of Appeals further issued a finding of an award of costs to the firm's client. 

Erik DiMarco
Mohammad M. Haque