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Municipality Not Entitled To Qualified Immunity - Claim of Negligent Design of Intersection Traffic Control Devices Goes to Jury Trial

On August 11, 2021, the City of New Rochelle received a rude awakening from the Appellate Division, Second Department when their defense of qualified immunity arising out of a highway planning decision was rejected as baseless. The plaintiff was a pedestrian crossing the street in the crosswalk with the light in her favor when she was struck by a car making a left turn. There was a left turn lane but there was no left turn traffic signal to coordinate vehicle and pedestrian flow. The plaintiff claimed that her injuries were due to the failure to install a left turning lane traffic signal. The lower court found that the doctrine of Qualified Immunity was applicable and threw out the plaintiffs case. The appellate court reversed and will allow a jury to decide the issue.

Generally, municipalities enjoy the benefit of qualified immunity as an affirmative defense which protects them from lawsuits arising out of roadway accidents caused by negligent roadway or traffic signal designs. However, there is an exception or qualification negating immunity when the municipality's "study of a traffic condition is plainly inadequate, or there is no reasonable basis for its traffic plan". Qualified Immunity will only apply "where a duly authorized public planning body has entertained and passed on the very same question of risk as would ordinarily go to the jury". In this case, the City of New Rochelle had failed to submit any evidence that their design and "determination that no left-turn signal was warranted - was based on a study which entertained and passed on the very same question of risk that the plaintiff would put to a jury." Simply put, you can't claim immunity based on the exercise of well considered judgment when you didn't even consider the pros and cons of adding a left turn signal traffic. Rosado v City of New Rochelle, 2021 NY Slip Op 04675

Ronald C. Burke, Esq

Trial Attorney with 30+ Years of Experience Attorney Ronald C. Burke, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience and has focused his career on representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and legal malpractice. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and has won many seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients over the years, including many case victories listed among the largest in the history of the New York State. He has been featured in the news and is a regular lecturer for the New York County Lawyers Association, as well as having lectured before the New York State Bar Association. Ron is also an attorney with Kelner & Kelner, a New York personal injury law firm. Awards and Accolades Mr. Burke's awards and accolades are many. Among them, he has been included in New York Super Lawyers® each year since 2010, and he has received the highest-possible AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. Verdict Search, a part of the New York Law Journal, frequently recognizes his notable successes after winning some of the highest settlements and verdicts in past years. He was also featured in their list of the "Top New York Verdicts " and "Top New York Settlements." He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is licensed to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. When Attorney Burke is not handling legal malpractice cases, he is highly involved in the local community. He was a member of the Village of Rockville Centre Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the local school board and as Chairman of the local Zoning Board. Learn more about Attorney Burke and how he can skillfully handle your malpractice case by contacting the Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke, Esq. right away to schedule your complimentary case evaluation. Our firm is here to help! Contact a New York Legal Malpractice Attorney Our firm provides each client's case with thorough preparation and aggressive representation, ensuring that you win the best possible results for your case whether it is settled or goes to trial. As a seasoned trial lawyer, Mr. Burke can provide the strong and relentless representation you need to establish negligence in a legal malpractice case and to recover any damages you may have suffered. Our firm can recover compensation for pre-trial and trial malpractice, violations of fee arrangements, loss of income, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us today!

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