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Circumstantial evidence may be used to grant a plaintiff summary judgment on the issue of liability — but not very often — the New York Court of Appeals said Tuesday in clarifying the circumstances under which res ipsa loquitur evidence is sufficient for summary judgment or a directed verdict.

Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt, writing for the unanimous court in Morejon v. Rais Construction Co., 61, left no doubt that such evidence will not normally entitle a plaintiff to a directed verdict or summary judgment. But he declined to close that door entirely, holding that there are cases, albeit rare ones, where a plaintiff could prevail at summary judgment on res ipsa loquitur.

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