Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Can that FedEx Truck Really Double Park Legally?

This week's weird (but true) legal case asks the question - can the ubiquitous FedEx truck really double park legally?

The above question was considered by a Supreme Court Judge in the matter of Yavkina v. New York City Police Department, 19 Misc.3d 1111(A) (Sup Ct Kings Cty 2008).

In Yavkina, a pedestrian was struck by a NY City Police Van when she was crossing in front of a double parked FedEx truck in Brooklyn. After she filed suit against the City and the driver of the van, the City brought a third party action against FedEx, asserting that the double parked truck obstructed the driver's view and contributed to the accident.

After discovery was closed, FedEx moved for summary judgment, asserting that it cannot be found to be negligent as New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law permits FedEx to double park when making deliveries.

In discussing the VTL, the court explained:

Thus the statute prohibits double parking but creates an exception to such prohibition for commercial vehicles while expeditiously making pick-ups, deliveries or services calls provided there is no unoccupied parking space or designated loading zone on either side of the street within 100 feet that can be used for such standing.

The problem for FedEx in this matter was that its driver had no recollection of the events which took place on the day of the accident. As such, FedEx could not establish that the driver was actively engaged in making deliveries or that there were no unoccupied parking spots.

However, the court was not done with FedEx as the Judge further explained that:

The evidence submitted on this motion establishes that the Federal Express vehicle was double parked. The photographs also establish that any vehicle passing the Federal Express vehicle would be compelled to travel in a portion of the lane of oncoming traffic. To pass the Federal Express truck, a vehicle would be required to leave little room between itself and the Federal Express truck to avoid oncoming traffic.

Based on the above, the court denied the motion, explaining that:

While double parking on wide streets would permit a passing vehicle to provide a margin for safe viewing and for pedestrian error, a narrow street does not. In this case, the question of the relative culpability of Federal Express, the City of New York and the plaintiff herself, all of whom appear to have had a role in the cause of this occurrence, must await resolution by a finder of fact.

As a post script it should be noted that FedEx took this up on appeal, but the Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court decision.

If you would like to view the Supreme Court decision please click here .

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