“Doored” Vespa Driver’s Case Dismissed

In Thompson v. Futri Transportation Corp., the court dismissed a complaint filed by a Vespa scooter driver who was injured when he tried to “squeeze” past a taxi, which had pulled over to let a passenger out.

Defendants argued that the “taxi cab did not cause the collision, and that Thompson’s overtaking, and squeezing past the taxi on the right, was the sole proximate cause of the collision.”  

It was “undisputed that the taxi cab was in the right lane, parallel to, and just two feet away from a row of cars parked at the curb.”

The court agreed with defendants, and granted them summary judgment:

The evidence establishes that the plaintiff Thompson violated Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1252 both by passing the taxi in the same lane occupied by the taxi [in violation of § 1252(b)], and operating the scooter between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles [in violation of §1252(c)] .

On the other hand, the evidence establishes that Futri [the cab’s owner] and Pazmino [the cab driver] did not violate either Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1214, or 34 RCNY [Rules of the City of New York] 4-11. Pazmino was permitted by the Rules of the City of New York to discharge his passenger alongside a vehicle parked at the curb. Vehicle and Traffic Law §1214 was not violated because the opened door was on the right/curb side of the taxi while it was stopped in the right lane, and §1214 speaks in terms of opening a vehicle’s door on the side available to moving traffic. For purposes of the statute, the two-foot wide space on the right side of the taxi was not a side of the taxi available to moving traffic.

Nor does Thompson deny that he was squeezing through the space between the cab and the parked cars; that is, Thompson does not deny that he was passing the cab within the cab’s own lane. While the movants affirmatively state that, at the time of the impact, the most-right lane had cars parked (as does the police report and police diagram), Thompson does not deny it. Rather, he states that he does not recall. Elsewhere, he states that he was in the right most lane, but that was before the impact, not at the time of the impact.

There is simply nothing in the motion papers to demonstrate that the movant/taxi breached any duty owed to Thompson or, assuming such a breach, that any conduct on the part of Pazmino was a proximate cause of the accident.

As a former Vespa owner (here’s a picture of my trusty steed), I can attest to the free, fun, and convenient – yet nerve-wracking – experience of maneuvering a scooter through Manhattan traffic. This case illustrates, however, that doing so presents significant risks. Cycle safely!

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