01.18.2018

Another Excellent Result On Summary Judgment In A High-Profile/High-Exposure Litigation for the SACS Appellate Group

The Hedges litigation, Michael Hedges, et al., v. East River Plaza, LLC, et al., Index No. 101854/2012 (Sup. Ct. New York Co.), arose from a horrific accident where a former real estate agent and charity volunteer was buying Halloween candy for needy kids when she was struck on the head by a Target shopping cart tossed from the fourth-floor level at the East River Plaza Mall.  Ms. Hedges sustained catastrophic neurological, physical and psychiatric injuries following her miraculous resuscitation by a bystander trauma doctor and nurse.

The SACS appellate group filed a motion for summary judgment, principally drafted by Tim Capowski, on behalf of Target that was so persuasive that the plaintiffs (represented by the eminent plaintiff counsel, Tom Moore, Esq.) didn’t even bother to file an opposition to Target’s motion.  After numerous adjournments, and while the motion was fully submitted and pending, they instead sought to settle for nuisance value.  Plaintiffs’ camp acknowledged privately that their desire to settle out with Target was motivated in large part because of the concern that the arguments we drafted and submitted would inure to the benefit of the other defendants. (Plaintiffs only subsequently realized that our motion would not be withdrawn because of Target’s remaining indemnification claims against the co-defendants.)

Even though the case by plaintiffs against Target had been settled, technically rendering our summary judgment motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims moot, the Court (Carmen St. George, J.) still agreed with all of our arguments that Target owed no legal duty and was not negligent and granted Target summary judgment on its remaining contractual and common law indemnification claims against the remaining defendants (mall owners and security), and did so implicitly on these bases.  Hence, even the nuisance settlement payment will be recovered by Target, along with Target’s costs and attorneys’ fees.  As plaintiffs feared, the Court also dismissed plaintiffs’ claims against Costco and Bob’s Stores (relying in part on our analysis).  However, the Court denied the motions for summary judgment of the mall owners and security, who remained targets in this high exposure litigation.

Confirming the high exposure concerns surrounding this matter, the jury awarded $45 million after a mere three hours of deliberation. 

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