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New York Appellate Court Refuses to Disturb Jury’s Defense Verdict in Slip and Fall Lawsuit

In order to prove liability in a Syracuse slip and fall case, the plaintiff must be able to show that an unreasonably safe condition existed and that the defendant proximately caused his or her injuries by creating the condition or in allowing the condition to remain after it should, by the exercise of due diligence, have been discovered and corrected. Without this important link of causation, the plaintiff will not be successful at trial. In many premises liability cases, the defendant will readily admit that there was a dangerous condition that led to the plaintiff’s injuries but deny that it created the condition or knew/should have known about the situation. When evidence is conflicting, it is the job of the jury to resolve any contradictions in the evidence. It is very difficult (although not impossible) to disturb a jury’s verdict on appeal.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in the Supreme Court of Kings County, the primary plaintiff was a carpenter who was hurt when he slipped and fell on a wet floor while installing carpet in a building upon which the defendant waterproofing company had been hired to repair a recurrent leak. According to the complaint filed by the carpenter and his wife, the defendant had been negligent in its repair of the roof, thus causing the wet floor conditions that allegedly led to the carpenter’s fall. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor on the basis that the defendant had not created or exacerbated the unsafe condition of the floor. The trial court entered judgment upon the jury’s favor, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Appellate Court’s Holding

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the trial court’s order entering judgment on the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant. Although the plaintiffs argued on appeal that the jury’s verdict had been against the weight of the evidence, the reviewing tribunal disagreed with this assertion. A jury verdict could only be set aside as being “contrary to the weight of the evidence” if the evidence preponderated so heavily in favor of the party seeking relief from the verdict that the jury could not have fairly interpreted the evidence. If a different view from that promulgated by the party seeking relief on appeal could be reasonable had, the verdict should not be disturbed. Rather, there should be a presumption that the jury viewed the evidence in that light supposed by the prevailing party, rather than in the manner insisted upon by the opposing party.

In holding that there was no reason to disturb the jury’s verdict in the case at bar, the appellate tribunal pointed out that it was the jury’s province to determine the credibility of witnesses. In so doing, the jury could accept some, all, or none of the testimony given by a particular witness. The jury also had the job of resolving any conflicting inferences created by the evidence introduced by the parties at trial. Because the plaintiffs had not been wrongfully deprived of a fair trial, the court found no reason to disturb the verdict of the jury or the judgment of the trial court thereon.

Call a Syracuse Lawyer for Advice

At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, our experienced personal injury attorneys help clients in Syracuse, Rochester, and other locations in upstate New York seek the financial compensation that they deserve following an accident caused by another’s negligence or careless behavior. To set up a free consultation to discuss a slip and fall or other premises liability lawsuit, call us at 315-479-9000.

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