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SKETCHES OF COURT: Parties apportion negligence after snowball car accident trial

November 14, 2018 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo
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In this courtroom sketch Hon. David Vaughan listens as plaintiff’s attorney Robert Margulies (standing), of the law offices of Drabkin & Margulies, consults his notes while addressing the jury during opening statements in the motor vehicle accident trial DeJesus v. Ullah, et al. At issue was the determination of liability.

DeJesus was a passenger in a southbound taxi driven by defendant driver Ullah, on Lenox Avenue in February 2015. DeJesus testified that the roadway was clear but wet from melting snow that could be seen off the road. DeJesus alleged that he heard a bang, after which his cab came to a sudden stop. The taxi then sustained a rear-end impact. DeJesus left the scene via ambulance, and claims injury as a result of the collision.

Ullah was represented by attorney Melanie Wiener (at right), of the law offices of Abrams Fensterman. Wiener claimed that responsibility for the collision did not fall to Ullah, but to the following car.

Margulies read testimony from the driver of the second car at a point in the proceedings when that driver remained a named defendant in the lawsuit. In an examination before trial, the motorist claimed that the taxi driver admitted to him that he suddenly stopped the car so that he could chase a kid who threw a snowball which hit his advancing cab. Margulies also cited an evidentiary police accident report to support the allegation that Ullah caused the accident.

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The second driver was released from the lawsuit after reaching a settlement with the plaintiff midway during the proceedings. The trial continued only against Ullah, but Wiener maintained that the second driver caused the accident in failing to compensate for road conditions that caused his car to rear-end the cab.

Judge Vaughan applied a missing witness charge after Ullah failed to testify, allowing the jury to draw the strongest inference against Ullah. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement after the jury apportioned 80 percent fault to Ullah and 20 percent to the non-party driver, in the trial that resolved in It’s actually Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term.  

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