Wrong Way Cyclist May Still Recover (NY)

It seems unfair that someone who was traveling the wrong way on a one-way street should be allowed to recover for alleged injuries if he gets into an accident, but that was not the case in Espiritu v. Shuttle Express Coach, Inc.

Espiritu was riding his bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street when he was struck at the intersection by a Shuttle Express bus that Michael Wright was driving.  There was a construction fence around 85 Adams Street located on the northeast corner of the intersection that both Espiritu and Wright testified blocked their view of the intersection.

At the close of discovery, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint and the lower court granted the motion ruling that Espiritu’s negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident because he was traveling the wrong way on a one-way street.  In reversing the lower court, the Second Department noted that even though Espiritu was negligent in that he violated the Vehicle and Traffic Law, there can be more than one proximate cause of an accident.  Since the defendants failed to establish that Wright was free from any comparative fault, there were questions of fact as to whether Wright failed to see what was there to be seen through the proper use of his senses, failed to exercise due care, or was traveling at a reasonable and prudent speed.  Similarly, there were questions of fact as to the negligent placement of the fence.  Thus, despite the obvious negligence on Espiritu’s part, he could still present his case to a jury.

Special thanks to Lora Gleicher for her contributions to this post.  For more information, please contact Nicole Y. Brown at nbrown@wcmlaw.com.