SACS Appellate Group Prevails Yet Again (For the Fifth Time) In Oldest Active Case in the Bronx
Some cases have their own karma or twisted history. This one is a doozy. It arose out of an April 1994 bus crash in upstate New York that seriously injured over a dozen passengers and killed one. Following extended discovery and stays of bankruptcy, this case with a 1994 Bronx County index number went to trial in 2006 and resulted in a verdict of nearly $30 million against our client, the bus manufacturer. Our appellate group monitored the trial and, on post-trial motion, we were successful in obtaining a significant remittitur of the award to under $9 million. On appeal to the First Department, we were successful in having the judgment reversed and the complaint, which was based on two separate theories of liability against the manufacturer, dismissed on speculation (weight distribution theory) and federal preemption (seatbelt claim theory) grounds. Doomes v. Best Transit, et al., 68 A.D.3d 504 (1st Dep’t 2009). The Court of Appeals granted leave to appeal, reinstated the seatbelt claim theory of recovery but affirmed the dismissal of the other claim, and remanded to the First Department for consideration of our additional appeal arguments that the Court hadn’t needed to address when it dismissed the case. Doomes v. Best Transit, et al., 17 N.Y.3d 594 (2011). Once again, we were successful and the First Department vacated the judgment based on the seatbelt claim and ordered a new trial. Doomes v. Best Transit, et al., 92 A.D.3d 490 (1st Dep’t 2012). A dispute then arose before the trial court (Sherman, J.) over the scope of the new trial, and the trial court ruled in favor of plaintiffs for a limited scope retrial. On appeal of this order, we were again successful and the First Department reversed the trial court’s order and instead ordered a full scope retrial in our client’s favor. Doomes v. Best Transit, et al., 126 A.D.3d 629 (1st Dep’t 2015). Now, finally, following a defense verdict at the full scope retrial, plaintiffs filed a post-trial motion to set aside the verdict. On July 19, 2018, the trial court ruled in our favor and denied plaintiffs’ post-trial motion in its entirety. Doomes v. Best Transit, et al., Index No. 16893/1994 (Sup. Ct. Bronx Co.) (Sherman, J.).
To tally up, we’ve actually now prevailed on two post-trial motions and three appeals in the First Department in the same litigation, a new first! While the latest round was principally drafted by Rob Ortiz and Tim Capowski, the overall briefing over the years was a true team effort including Steven Ahmuty, Chris Simone, Tim and Rob.