In Amador v. City of New York, decided August 13, 2014, the Appellate Division, Second Department explained:
A rear-end collision with a stopped or stopping vehicle establishes a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the operator of the rear vehicle, thereby requiring that operator to rebut the inference of negligence by providing a nonnegligent explanation for the collision. One of several nonnegligent explanations for a rear-end collision is a sudden stop of the lead vehicle. There can be more than one proximate cause of an accident, and the proponent of a summary judgment motion has the burden of establishing freedom from comparative fault as a matter of law.
Here, plaintiff – the rear-endee – was not entitled to summary judgment:
Although the transcript of the plaintiff’s General Municipal Law § 50-h hearing testimony, which was submitted in support of the motion, demonstrated that his vehicle was struck in the rear as it was coming to a stop, the transcript of the deposition testimony of Esposito, which the plaintiff also submitted in support of the motion, failed to eliminate triable issues of fact as to whether the plaintiff was free from comparative fault. According to Esposito, the plaintiff’s vehicle came to an abrupt stop for no apparent reason as it was approaching an intersection with the traffic light in its favor.
The court thus reversed the Supreme Court’s order granting plaintiff summary judgment on the issue of liability.