Bifurcated Trial in the Bronx? Stranger things have happened.

Typically, trials in the First Department, which includes the Bronx and New York County, are unified — meaning that liability and damages are tried together. However, the trial court is vested with the discretion to bifurcate the trial in certain circumstances. Jackson v Montefiore Med. Center was one such case.

In Jackson, the plaintiff fell after one of the defendants bumped into her. The defendants moved for a bifurcated trial, arguing that questions of liability and damages were distinct and severable issues and plaintiff’s injuries are not probative in determining how the accident occurred. The Supreme Court agreed and the First Department affirmed.

In personal injury suits in Bronx County, there are few benefits to a unified trial and many drawbacks. So if liability and damages are clear cut and distinct, take a shot a bifurcating. You never know.

Special thanks to Gabe Darwick for his contribution.

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