Decisions of Interest

Jessie Parker v. Logan Bus Co., Inc. and "John Doe", name being fictitious, true name unknown, person intended being the operator of the bus involved in the occurrence

Supreme Court, New York County, Index No. 108699/06

Plaintiff, a teacher, alleged she was injured when she fell as she was disembarking from a school bus. It had snowed the previous day and the ground was icy. Plaintiff, the second person to exit the bus, claimed her foot slipped on a wet step. She did not notice that the step was wet as she was stepping down. Although she reported the incident to her union representative, she did not report the occurrence to the bus company and the bus company had no record of the incident.

We represented defendant Logan Bus Co., the owner of the bus. We argued that Logan Bus did not have actual notice of the condition and did not create the condition. If fact, plaintiff testified that the water on the step resulted from others boarding the bus in front of her. In addition, we contended that the given the short time between when the step became wet and when plaintiff was exiting the bus (the bus had only driven a distance of one to two miles) that there was an insufficient length of time to have permitted the defendant to have discovered and remedied the condition. Moreover, there was no evidence of complaints that the step was dangerous because it was wet and no evidence that the wet step was visible from where the driver was seated. We argued that under these facts, the negligence claims asserted against Logan Bus Co. should be dismissed as a matter of law as the plaintiff did not establish that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the condition.

The Court granted our motion for summary judgment, and dismissed all claims asserted against Logan Bus Co. In dismissing the plaintiff's causes of action, the Court pointed to the plaintiff's own testimony which established that the defendant had no actual notice of the condition and that the other passengers on the bus created the wet condition on the step where the incident occurred. The Court also found that the defendant made a prima facia showing that it did not have constructive notice of the wet step and noted that there were no prior complaints made about the step to the bus driver and that the condition on the step did not exist for a sufficient length of time to establish constructive notice of it.