Justice Howard Lane


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Hartofilis moved for leave to amend his answer to assert a collateral estoppel affirmative defense, and for dismissal of the complaint upon the doctrine. Chamba sued to recover damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained while he was working inside a body shop when he was hit by Nasir’s vehicle. Nasir’s and Hartofilis’ vehicles collided and Nasir’s car crossed over lanes of traffic, and entered the body shop, hitting three pedestrians, including Chamba—whose legs were amputated as a result of the accident. Hartofilis’ prior motion for dismissal was denied as premature. A motor vehicle fatality hearing was held before an ALJ—as a pedestrian working in the shop was killed—to determine if the surviving drivers caused the accident. Nasir was found in violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and were the direct cause of the collision. Hartofilis was found neither grossly negligent nor in violation of any VTL provisions. The court found Chamba was not a party to the VTL hearing, and the ALJ did not decide any issues against him that could be binding on him herein. Thus, it ruled collateral estoppel was inapplicable, denying Hartofilis’ motion for leave to amend. Also, as hartofilis failed to establish he was not negligent, summary judgment was denied.