An Unusual and Violent Bus Stop (NY)

Bus riders in New York City are familiar with the usual “jerks and jolts” that occur when riding a bus in heavy City traffic. However, a bus driver that makes an “unusual and violent stop” may be negligent. In Lewis v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the plaintiff was injured when a bus on which she was a passenger stopped suddenly, causing her to fall. The Supreme Court, Queens County was faced with the question of whether the bus driver made an “unusual and violent stop”. The bus driver testified that he was in traveling about 15 mph in heavy traffic “at least a car length” behind a passenger car, when the car stopped suddenly in an intersection. The bus driver hit the brakes and stopped the bus from hitting the car.

The MTA moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the stop was not “unusual and violent. Further, the MTA argued that they were entitled to summary judgment under the “emergency doctrine”.

The Supreme Court, Queens County, denied the motion. On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department upheld the lower court’s decision, holding that the bus driver’s testimony that he was traveling as fast as 15mph and as little as one car length behind the car before it stopped suddenly demonstrates a question of fact. Further, the court held that the emergency doctrine does not apply because the bus driver was reacting to a common traffic occurrence and not an emergency.

Thank you to Ed Lomena for his contribution.

For more information, contact Denise Ricci at dricci@wcmlaw.com