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Vega-Santana v. AMTRAK

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 29, 2013

ANA LYDIA VEGA-SANTANA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION et al., Defendants

For Mrs Ana Lydia Vega-Santana, Mr. Roberto Villanua, Plaintiffs: Isabel Abislaiman, LEAD ATTORNEY, San Juan, PR; Edward W. Hill-Tollinche, PRO HAC VICE, Hill & Gonzalez, PSC, San Juan, PR.

For National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as, Amtrak, Ronald E Joseph, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jennifer Ashley Ramme, Jennifer Wu, William Patrick Miller, Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford PC, New York, NY.

OPINION

Page 557

GABRIEL W. GORENSTEIN, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiffs Ana Lydia Vega-Santana (" Vega" ) and Robert Villanua bring this suit for negligence against the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (" Amtrak" ) and several unidentified entities for injuries Vega sustained in New York's Pennsylvania Station following a trip on an Amtrak train. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all of plaintiffs' claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c).

Page 558

For the following reasons, this motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise stated. Vega is a writer who lives in Puerto Rico with her husband, Villanua. See Deposition of Ana Lydia Vega, dated Aug. 16, 2012 (annexed as Ex. 1 to Declaration of Jennifer A. Ramme, filed Jan. 25, 2013 (Docket # 42) (" Ramme Decl." )) (" Vega Dep. Tr." ), 5; Deposition of Roberto Villanua, dated Aug. 17, 2012 (annexed as Ex. 2 to Ramme Decl.) (" Villanua Dep. Tr." ), 4, 8. Vega was invited to give the W.E.B. Du Bois lecture at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, and traveled there in October 2008. (Vega Dep. Tr. 13; Villanua Dep. Tr. 6-7). Following the lecture, on October 15, 2008, Vega and Villanua traveled fro Hamilton to Utica, New York, and then took an Amtrak train from Utica to New York City. (Vega Dep. Tr. 44-45; Villanua Dep. Tr. 7). Plaintiffs' train arrived at Pennsylvania Station in New York City at approximately 3:30 pm. (Vega Dep. Tr. 53-55; Villanua Dep. Tr. 7-8). Vega was carrying one shoulder bag, approximately 1.5 feet by 1.5 feet, and wheeling a medium-sized rolling suitcase. (Vega Dep. Tr. 48-53; Villanua Dep. Tr. 10-11). After exiting the train, the couple looked for signs for an elevator or street exit. (Vega Dep. Tr. 56; Villanua Dep. Tr. 14-15). Because they did not see any signs for either, Vega approached a man on the side of the platform. (Vega Dep. Tr. 56; Villanua Dep. Tr. 15-16). She asked if he worked there, and when he answered in the affirmative, she asked how to exit to the street. (Vega Dep. Tr. 56-57; Villanua Dep. Tr. 19). He responded that the best option was to take the escalator. (Vega Dep. Tr. 8, 57; Villanua Dep. Tr. 19). He then told Vega and Villanua to follow him, and proceeded to move " so fast that [Vega] almost lost sight of him and [she] accelerated [her] step." (Vega Dep. Tr. 8; Villanua Dep. Tr. 20, 23). When Vega got to the escalator, she noticed that it was " narrow." (Vega Dep. Tr. 64; Villanua Dep. Tr. 28). She saw the individual whom she had followed at the top of the escalator, so she got on the escalator. (Vega Dep. Tr. 65). As she stepped on, she " immediately [] tried to place the suitcase . . . next to [her], but [she] noticed that there wasn't sufficient space, so . . . [she] placed it on the step behind [her]." (Id.). When she was approximately " halfway" up the escalator, she " fell backwards . . . [a]nd upon falling backwards, [her] body turned" and she injured her wrist. (Vega Dep. Tr. 69-71, 72-73; Villanua Dep. Tr. 39-41). In response to a question about what caused her fall, Vega stated,

I truly cannot explain it myself. I imagine that I lost my balance. But at the moment that something like that happens, emotions take over and the rational[] part is not working clearly, therefore I cannot give you a precise reason. . . . Something took me off balance, but I cannot categorically affirm what it was.

(Vega Dep. Tr. 69-70).

When asked if the escalator was working properly at the time that she fell, she responded, " I cannot swear by it because I don't know if there was a problem, but my impression was that yes, that it was working." (Vega Dep. Tr. 70). Villanua testified that he believed the escalator was in working order. (Villanua Dep. Tr. 30).

After Vega's fall, the escalator stopped, and her husband helped her up. (Vega Dep. Tr. 84-86; Villanua Dep. Tr. 44, 46-50). She was then assisted by police and paramedics in the station and ...


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