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Zena Cohen, Inc v. Marci B. Strouch and Daiichi Sankyo

December 13, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, District Judge:


Plaintiff Zena Cohen ("Cohen") brings this action asserting a claim of negligence against defendant Marci B. Strouch ("Strouch") and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. ("DSI") arising out of a collision between vehicles driven by Cohen and Strouch. On October 4, 2011, Cohen filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of the defendants' liability and their affirmative defense that Cohen was comparatively negligent. For the following reasons, her motion is granted.


The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Cohen is a citizen of New York. Strouch is a citizen of Connecticut and an employee of DSI. DSI is a corporation organized in Delaware with a principal place of business in New Jersey.

I. Approaching the Intersection of the Collision

On September 27, 2010, Strouch was attending a meeting for DSI in Long Beach, New York. DSI had provided Strouch with a Toyota Camry, and she was driving that vehicle on September 27 within the scope of her employment.

On the morning of September 27, Strouch was driving to the location of her meeting along West Park Avenue in Long Beach. West Park Avenue has six lanes going in two directions, three headed east and three headed west. It intersects with National Boulevard, which has northbound and southbound lanes of traffic. In the area of this intersection, West Park Avenue's east and westbound lanes are separated by an approximately 66-foot wide median that was used for parking. The median was wide enough to have more than one row of cars parked in it at an angle. Cohen testified that this median effectively divided West Park Avenue into two roads, one with eastbound lanes and one with westbound lanes. The intersection of West Park Avenue and National Boulevard was controlled by traffic lights. Cohen and a third party witness, Bohdan Pilczak ("Pilczak"), testified that when vehicles on West Park Avenue had a green light, those on National Boulevard would have a red light, and vice-versa.

When Strouch arrived at the intersection with National Boulevard, she made a left turn to proceed southbound on National Boulevard. At the time, the traffic light for vehicles traveling west on West Park Avenue, as she had been traveling before turning, was green. After she turned, Strouch proceeded through the portion of the intersection where National Boulevard was flanked on the west and east by the wide median, and then proceeded into the portion of the intersection where National Boulevard crossed the eastbound lanes of West Park Avenue. Strouch testified that as she passed through the median-bounded portion of the intersection, she did not look overhead to see if there were any traffic control devices, but she assumes that there was one based on the resulting collision she experienced. She came to the conclusion later that she had probably passed through a red light.

At the same time, Cohen was driving her vehicle east on West Park Avenue in the center lane of eastbound traffic approaching the intersection with National Boulevard at about twenty-five miles per hour. There were no cars traveling directly next to her in the left-most (and most northern) eastbound lane. Pilczak's vehicle was one or one and a half car lengths behind Cohen's vehicle, but in the left-hand lane. As she approached and crossed into the intersection, Cohen saw that the traffic light for eastbound vehicles on West Park Avenue, such as hers, was green, and did not see it change while she entered the intersection. Pilczak could also see as he approached the intersection that eastbound traffic on West Park Avenue had a green light.

II. The Collision

Cohen's vehicle, headed eastbound, and Strouch's vehicle, headed southbound, collided in the intersection. Cohen testified that as she approached the intersection, she did not see Strouch's vehicle. Cohen first noticed Strouch's vehicle approaching her from the left when it was ten feet away, or perhaps less than ten feet away -- only one or two seconds before impact. She then slammed on her brakes. Cohen testified that as a result of the collision, her car had dents on the left front fender and the driver's-side rear door.

Pilczak did not see the Strouch vehicle until it entered the intersection. At the time, Pilczak was very close to the intersection, just a few feet away. The Strouch vehicle passed in front of his vehicle as it entered the intersection. Pilczak stopped his vehicle upon seeing Strouch's vehicle. He saw that the front of Strouch's vehicle came in contact with the driver's side of the Cohen vehicle, and that as a result of the accident, the Cohen vehicle was pushed from the center lane to the right lane of West Park Avenue. Pilczak testified that the Strouch vehicle came to a rest after the accident in the center lane of West Park Avenue, facing south.

Strouch testified that she did not see the Cohen vehicle before there was contact between the two vehicles. She noted that the front right corner of her vehicle was struck by Cohen's vehicle, but she did not know what part of Cohen's vehicle was impacted. It is ...

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