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Ventura v. Attea

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 1, 2015

MICHELLE VENTURA, Plaintiff,
v.
SARAH M. ATTEA, JOHNSON & JOHNSON FINANCE CORPORATION, AND JANSSEN PHARAMACEUTICALS, INC., Defendants

For Michelle M Ventura, Plaintiff: Donna L. Burden, LEAD ATTORNEY, Burden, Gulisano & Hickey, LLC, Buffalo, NY.

For Sarah M Attea, Johnson & Johnson Finance Corporation, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Defendants: Melissa M. Morton, Victor Alan Oliveri, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Gibson, McAskill & Crosby, LLP, Buffalo, NY; Timothy J. Graber, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gibson, McAskill & Crosby, Buffalo, NY.

DECISION AND ORDER

ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Michelle Ventura (" Plaintiff" ) has sued Defendants Sarah M. Attea (" Attea" ), Johnson & Johnson Finance Corporation (" J& J Finance" ), and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (" Janssen" ) (collectively " Defendants" ) as a result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on December 27, 2011, in the Town of Amherst, approximately 150 feet west of the intersection of Hopkins Road and Sheridan Drive. Plaintiff was traveling in the left-hand turning lane when Attea, who was exiting the parking lot of a gas station, crossed traffic and collided with Plaintiff's vehicle. Plaintiff suffered an injury to her left hand as a result of the collision.

Plaintiff has filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability as to Attea and J& J Finance pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Dkt. 14). Because there are no genuine disputes concerning the material facts as to the issue of liability, Plaintiff's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The motor vehicle accident occurred on December 27, 2011, at approximately 8:35 a.m. on Sheridan Drive, approximately 150 feet west of its intersection with Hopkins Road in the Town of Amherst. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 1; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 1). Plaintiff was headed eastbound on Sheridan Drive, traveling to a patient's home in Amherst in connection with her job as an infusion nurse. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ ¶ 2-3; Dkt. 20 at ¶ ¶ 2-3). Attea was driving a company car owned by J& J Finance that was provided to her through her employment with Janssen. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ ¶ 6, 11; Dkt. 20 at ¶ ¶ 6, 11). Attea was traveling to her home in Nashville, Tennessee, and had driven to a gas station located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Sheridan Drive and Hopkins Road. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ ¶ 7-8; Dkt. 20 at ¶ ¶ 7-8). The parties agree that Attea was operating the vehicle with the permission and consent of J& J Finance. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 12; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 12).

At the time of the accident, Attea was on the phone with her stepmother. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 14; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 14). Attea also had a small dog in the vehicle with her. (Dkt. 14 at ¶ 13; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 13). The weather was clear and the roads were dry, but there was a lot of traffic. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ ¶ 19-20; Dkt. 20 at ¶ ¶ 19-20).

Immediately prior to the collision, Plaintiff was traveling eastbound on Sheridan Drive with the intent to make a left-hand turn onto Hopkins Road, merging into the left-hand turning lane where it began. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ ¶ 21-22; Dkt. 20 at ¶ ¶ 21-22). As Plaintiff approached the intersection, there were vehicles stopped at the red light in both lanes of eastbound traffic, but no vehicles ahead of her in the left-hand turning lane. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 24; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 24). Plaintiff testified that she was traveling at the speed limit (45 miles per hour) immediately prior to and at the time of the accident. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 26; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 26).

Before the accident, Attea was preparing to exit the gas station parking lot through its westerly exit. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 27; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 27). She intended to make a left-hand turn onto Sheridan Drive across the eastbound lanes of traffic and into the westbound lanes. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 28; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 28). Attea testified that she did not see any vehicle traffic coming from her left. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 29; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 29). Attea's vehicle exited the parking lot, crossed the first two eastbound lanes of traffic, and collided with Plaintiff's vehicle in the left-hand turning lane; the point of impact was between the front left corner of Attea's vehicle and the right passenger panel of Plaintiff s vehicle. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ ¶ 32-33; Dkt. 20 at ¶ ¶ 32-33).

Plaintiff was taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital after the collision, where x-rays showed that she had fractured the second, third, and fourth metacarpals on her left hand. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 41; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 41). Plaintiff had open reduction and internal fixation surgery on her left hand on the day of the collision. (Dkt. 15 at ¶ 42; Dkt. 20 at ¶ 42).

Plaintiff commenced this action in New York state court on June 27, 2012. (Dkt. 1 at ¶ 1). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on August 16, 2012 ( id. at ¶ 3), and Defendants filed an answer to the amended complaint on August 22, 2012 ( id. at ¶ 4). Plaintiff served a demand setting forth her claimed damages on November 21, 2012. ( Id. at ¶ 6). Defendants filed a notice of removal in this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction on November 27, 2012. (Dkt. 1).

Plaintiff filed the instant motion on September 26, 2013. (Dkt. 14). Defendants filed their opposing papers on October 28, 2013 (Dkt. 18-21), and Plaintiff filed her reply on November 12, 2013 (Dkt. 26). On January 14, 2014, the deadlines set forth in the scheduling order governing this case were stayed pending resolution of the motion. (Dkt. 28). This case was transferred to the undersigned on ...


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