Fullerton Beck recently prevailed in a case venued in Bronx County Supreme Court, involving allegations that a defective freight elevator caused its door to close on a contractor working on renovations in a New York City office building. The plaintiff claimed injuries to his shoulder requiring orthoscopic surgery. Fullerton Beck senior counsel Joseph Sauer represented the elevator company that maintained the freight elevator at issue. Following discovery, Joe filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the testimony presented by the plaintiff and his coworkers, who entered the elevator that day with the plaintiff, and the evidence obtained through an investigation indicated that the elevator did not malfunction. Joe asserted in his motion that the elevator operator, who was employed by the office building, was the sole cause of the incident because rather than paying attention to operating the elevator, he was playing Sudoku on his telephone.
The court granted Fullerton Beck’s motion for summary judgement, dismissing the case against the elevator company. While this case win appears to be straight forward, the Joe was able to successfully position the case for dismissal and avoid a possible question of fact on the application of res ipsa loquitur, Latin for “the thing speaks for itself,” a doctrine of law that one is presumed to be negligent if he had exclusive control of whatever caused the injury even though there is no specific evidence of an act of negligence, and without negligence the accident would not have happened. Swift and impactful defenses like this provide Fullerton Beck’s clients much needed peace of mind and extraction from unpredictable litigation.