Judge Arlene Bluth of New York County Supreme Court denied a motion seeking to dismiss the claims of a cyclist seriously injured when “doored” by a cab passenger, in a case where the cab fled the scene of the crash. The cyclist, a client of Vaccaro & White, had made a claim upon the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (“MVAIC”), an entity created by statute which provides no fault benefits and compensation to victims of hit and run and uninsured drivers.
MVAIC sought dismissal of the cyclist’s claim on the grounds that taxicabs are permitted to operate without insurance against the negligence of taxi passengers. (This rarely comes up in dooring cases, because usually the negligence of the cab driver, in failing to pull over to the curb or to look for or warn against the dooring of cyclists, is also present, and cab driver negligence must be insured against). MVAIC’s novel argument went as follows: If the cab that doored the cyclist had stayed at the scene, it might have been found to have had an insurance policy that did not insure against dooring by passengers, and therefore that MVAIC, which is by analogy sort of like an insurer, should not be required to pay money that a hypothetical insurer might not have been required to payunder analogous circumstances.
Judge Bluth rejected what she described as MVAIC’s “bold claims” that it was entitled to the same rights that the hypothetical insurer of a hypothetical stay-at-the-scene cabbie might have ad. Judge Bluth held that MVAIC was required t0 provide benefits and compensation to hit-and-run crash victims arsing not only out of the “operation” (the driving) an automobile, but also out of the “use” (e.g. the opening of the door) of an automobile, consistent with the clear language of the statute that created it.
The plaintiff’s case will now proceed to trial.
A copy of the full decision is available here: