Friday, April 29, 2005

New certified questions. The Second Circuit has certified five questions to the New York State Court of Appeals regarding the application to summary judgment of section 388(1) of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law. The questions are:

1. Under New York law, are uncontradicted statements of the both the owner and the driver of a car that the dirver was operating the vehicle without the owner's permissions sufficient to warrant a court in awarding summary judgment to the owner?

2. If no, can additional circumstantial evidence such as the contemporaneous accident reports submitted by the owner tip the balance and warrant a court in awarding summary judgment despite the interested nature of the sources?

3. If no, is the uncontradicted testimony of the driver and the woner that the driver was operating the vehicle without permission, even if not sufficient for summary judgment, sufficient at a trial to overcome the statutory presumption of permissive use, thereby placing the burden on the plaintiff to prove permissive use at trial?

4. Even if the concontradicted testimony of the dirver and owner that the use of the vehicle was without permission is not by itself enough to rebut the presumption of permissive use, is the addition of such further evidence as contemporaneous accident reports by the ownersufficient to do so, with the result at trial that the burden of proving permissive use will rest on the plaintiff?

5. Is the answer of any of the previous questions affected by the absence of evidence that the defendant (Amtrak) reported the unauthorized use of its vehicle to any law enforcement agency?

The decision in Country Wide Insurance Co. v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. a.k.a. Amtrak can be found here.

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