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New York Court Upholds Dismissal of Car Accident Case on Summary Judgment Due to Plaintiff’s Untimely Opposition to Motion

Timeliness is very important at every juncture of a car accident lawsuit. From the filing of the initial complaint, to responding to pre-trial motions, and on the appellate process, time is of the essence.

Those who fail to timely pursue their litigation against an allegedly negligent party will likely meet with a very harsh result. This can include total dismissal of what might otherwise have been a sound and potentially valuable cause of action.

Speaking with a Syracuse car accident attorney as soon as possible after a motor vehicle crash can go a long way towards ensuring that your case proceeds in a timely fashion. While exceptions are sometimes made for late filings, such is the exception – the very rare exception – rather than the rule.

Facts of the Case

In a case arising in the Supreme Court of Queens County, the plaintiff was the administrator of the estate of an individual who passed away in an automobile accident in 2014. The plaintiff’s lawsuit sought money damages for the decedent’s wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering, which was allegedly caused by the negligence of the defendants, a real estate company and others. More specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the decedent had been killed when the vehicle in which she was riding went into a creek, that the accident happened because of a missing or collapsed guardrail, and that the defendants’ special use of the area in which the accident happened had caused or contributed to the problem with the guardrail.

One of the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff obtained an extension of time in which to respond to the defendant’s motion but still failed to submit a timely opposition to the motion. A day before the return date for the defendant’s motion, the plaintiff filed a motion under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 2004, seeking to extend the time for opposing the defendant’s motion. On the adjourned return date, the trial court rejected the plaintiff’s response as untimely and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff then appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s order. Under New York procedural rules, a trial court may extend the time for a party’s response upon a showing of good cause. The determination of whether such good cause exists falls within the discretion of the trial court.

Here, the reviewing court agreed that the trial court was within its discretion in refusing to allow the plaintiff additional time to respond to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff had not shown good cause for his delay insomuch as he had failed to proffer any valid excuse for his failure to make a timely filing. According to the court on appeal, without a showing of due diligence, the proper course of action under the circumstances was for the trial court to disallow the plaintiff’s request for additional time to respond to the defendant’s motion.

Contact a Syracuse Car Accident Lawyer

Timeliness is critical in a car accident case. To speak to a member of our litigation team about your case, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP today at 315-479-9000. If necessary, we can travel to your home or hospital room to discuss your case, so please do not put off getting the legal assistance that you need.

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