Thursday, September 24, 2015

Charging a jury on comparative fault.

Practice point:  In this action for injuries allegedly sustained at the construction site by plaintiff's decedent,  the Appellate Division found that the trial court erred in charging the jury on comparative fault. Although defendants argued that the extensive debris and garbage on the floor could have easily been avoided, the jury's verdict established that defendants were responsible for keeping the area clear.  Moreover, the decedent was not obligated to clear the floor of garbage and there was no clear path that he could use. The charge was not warranted because there was no evidence of culpable conduct on decedent's part.

Student note:  The charge should be given if, based on the evidence presented at trial, there is a valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences from which rational persons can draw a conclusion of the plaintiff's negligence.

Case:  Kutza v. Bovis Lend Lease LMB, Inc., NY Slip Op 06753 (1st Dept. 2015)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Labor Law  § 200.