06.02.2021

Appellate Group Obtained Summary Judgment In Negligence Action Involving Plaintiff Who Fell Into Blades of an Operating Thatcher

Today, the SACS Appellate Group obtained summary judgment in a Nassau County negligence action involving a plaintiff whose leg was amputated below the knee after he fell into the blades of an operating thatcher.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant golf and country club, which had loaned its thatcher to a neighboring club where plaintiff was employed, was negligent in its alleged removal and/or modification of safety guards from the thatcher.  The plaintiff further claimed the defendant failed to warn of the hazards associated with the thatcher and what plaintiff deemed to be an inadequate guard. 

The defendant moved for summary judgment contesting as demonstrably false the central allegations underlying plaintiff’s claims, namely, that the guard was removed or modified in any way.  The defendant further argued that its loan of the thatcher was a gratuitous bailment, and therefore its duty was limited to warning of defects or hazards that were not patently obvious.  Relatedly, the defendant maintained that all hazards posed by the thatcher were open, obvious, and readily discernible. 

The motion court agreed with the defendant and granted its summary judgment motion.  The court held both that the defendant was at best a gratuitous bailor with a limited duty, and also that all hazards posed by the thatcher were open, obvious, and readily discernible.  This case represents just another example of the benefits that can be achieved when thorough discovery is coupled with strategic motion practice.   

The motion papers were completed by a team of attorneys, including Tim Capowski, Jonathan Shaub, and Payne Tatich from SACS’ Appellate Group, Neil Coscio of McGaw, Alventosa & Zajac, and Sean Prendergast of Hannum Feretic Prendergast & Merlino, LLC.

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