The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONSTANCE MOTLEY, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This action stems from an accident that occurred on the Long
Island Expressway in July of 2002. Plaintiff John Byrne alleges
that he sustained serious injuries and damage to his property
resulting from defendant Oester Trucking, Inc.'s tractor-trailer
sideswiping plaintiff's Jeep.
John Byrne ("Byrne") filed this action in the Supreme Court,
County of New York, on February 26, 2003. The action was removed
to federal court on April 4, 2003 on the basis of diversity
Defendants Oester Trucking, Inc. ("Oester") and Joseph Calvin
Drake ("Drake") answered the complaint on August 29, 2003, and on
October 15, 2003, the matter was transferred from Judge Batts to
Presently before the court is the defendants' motion for
summary judgment, filed on August 10, 2004.
In the early afternoon of July 1, 2002, Byrne was operating his
recently purchased 2000 Jeep in the far left lane of the three
lane Long Island Expressway heading west, at about exit 21, in
Queens, New York. (Byrne Dep. at 10, 15; Drake Dep. at 7, 23).
The highway in that area is divided by a cement divider that was
approximately five feet from the far left lane. (Byrne Dep. at
21; Drake Dep. at 23).
Drake was operating a tractor-trailer owned by his employer
Oester, Pennsylvania plate number AE56489, in the center lane of
the Long Island Expressway in the same vicinity as Byrne.
(Complaint at 1; Drake Dep. at 23). Drake was on his way to make
a "pick up," having made a delivery on Long Island earlier in the
day. (Drake Dep. at 20). Traffic just prior to the time of the
accident had been "stop and go" due to construction, but had
begun to "open up," and vehicles were beginning to accelerate.
Id. at 23-24. At that point in time, according to Drake, there
were two stopped vehicles in the center lane in front of Drake's
tractor-trailer.*fn1 Id. at 25-26. The vehicle closest to
Drake's tractor-trailer was stopped in the center lane behind
another vehicle that was half in the center lane and half in the
right lane, also stopped. Id. Drake, who had accelerated to
approximately 45 mph, upon observing these two stopped vehicles
in front of him, forcefully applied his brakes and attempted to
steer the tractor-trailer to the left in order to avoid the
stopped cars in the roadway. Id. at 28-29.
Byrne, who was operating his Jeep at a rate of approximately
55-60 mph in the far left lane, was even with the trailer section
of Drake's tractor-trailer just before the accident. (Byrne Dep.
at 18-19). Upon seeing Drake's tractor-trailer change lanes from
the center lane to Byrne's lane, Byrne applied his brakes to
avoid being struck by the tractor-trailer. Id. at 23. However,
not having at any time observed Byrne's Jeep, the trailer section
of Drake's tractor-trailer collided with Byrne's Jeep when Drake
entered the left lane, forcing it up and onto the cement divider
where it struck a light pole that was situated in the center of
the divider. Id. at 24. Byrne's Jeep stopped there, with the
two driver side wheels of the Jeep on the left side of the
divider and the two passenger side wheels on the right side of
the divider. Id. at 24-26. The Jeep was leaning to the right so
that the roofline of the Jeep rested against the trailer portion
of Drake's tractor-trailer, midway down the trailer. (Byrne Dep.
at 25-26; Drake Dep. at 31). Byrne was wearing a seatbelt, which
did not tear as a consequence of the impact, and although the
Jeep was equipped with air bags, they did not deploy. (Byrne Dep.
at 27-28). Resulting from the impact or impacts, the back of
Byrne's neck and head hit the headrest. Id.
Byrne was assisted from his vehicle by emergency personnel and
transported to Elmhurst Hospital where he presented complaints of pain in his neck and
back.*fn2 (Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5; Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt.
¶ 3). Approximately ten to fourteen days later, Byrne sought
treatment from Leonard Harrison, M.D., an orthopedic doctor,
complaining of pain in his left hip and lower back, for which Dr.
Harrison prescribed physical therapy and painkillers. (Pl.'s Rule
56.1 Stmt. ¶ 14, 17). Byrne saw Dr. Harrison through September
2003. Byrne also attended physical therapy sessions approximately
seventy-eight (78) times during the period August 12, 2002
through May 21, 2003, and continued these sessions twice weekly
until October 2003. (Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 18, 20; Def.'s Rule
56.1 Stmt. ¶ 6). In addition to the therapy sessions, Byrne
followed a home exercise regimen, which he continued to follow
through the filing of this action. (Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 21).
Byrne visited neurologist Jerome M. Block, M.D. on August 8,
2002, complaining of low back pain and of a "pins and needles"
sensation along the outer aspect of his left thigh when standing.
Id. ¶ 27. Byrne reported that his pain increased while climbing
stairs, rolling over in bed, arising from a seated position, and
that certain movements of his left leg would cause sharp pain in
the same area. Id. Dr. Block reported that Byrne was unable to
laterally bend at the waist with the same range of motion as
would be expected in a "normal" man of Byrne's age and health,
that his ability to tilt to the left was diminished by
approximately 25-30%, that attempts to bend to ...