The New York Court of Appeals recently considered a case wherein plaintiff alleged injuries sustained as a result of a poorly-maintained, diseased tree was the responsibility of both the property owner and the state. According to court records, plaintiff suffered serious personal injuries when a large branch broke off that tree, which abutted the road, and fell onto her Jeep. The impact caused her to suffer traumatic brain injuries.
Plaintiff and her spouse sued both the property owner and the state. Against the property owner, plaintiffs alleged there was negligence in the failure to inspect, trim and remove the dead/ diseased tree. As far as the state, plaintiff alleged negligence by Department of Transportation workers for a failure to properly maintain trees along that road or warn drivers of the dangerous along that highway.
Defendant property owner asked to be allowed to introduce trial evidence of the state’s alleged negligence, and also requested a jury instruction on the apportionment of liability for damages between property owner and the state. Plaintiff indicated that while there was nothing preventing the jury from hearing trial evidence tending to show the state was possibly liable for her injuries, but she objected insofar as the jury should not be allowed to apportion fault against the state. (The state could not be ultimately joined in this action because sovereign immunity laws prevented her from prevailing in such action.) Continue reading