Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Precluding photos of an accident site.

In this personal injury action, plaintiff alleged that he was on foot, crossing the street, when he fell into a sinkhole.  Hi's theory of the case is that the City and its pavement restoration contractor, a third-party defendant, performed the work that resulted in the sinkhole.

At trial, the court precluded plaintiff from introducing into evidence photographs of the sinkhole, taken two weeks after the accident, finding that they did not fairly and accurately depict the way the accident site looked on the date of the accident.

The Appellate Division said that the trial court erred in precluding the photos.

Practice point:  Plaintiff authenticated the photos at his deposition, and testimony at trial could have explained how and why the scene depicted in the photos did or did not differ from  the site on the day of the accident. Excluding the photos meant that plaintiff was not able to show the jury the hole into which he allegedly fell.

Case:  Gonzalez v. City of New York, NY Slip Op 05180 (1st Dep't June 27, 2017)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  An action in tort against the Transit Authority.