Krentsel & Guzman, LLP, New York, NY (Steven E. Krentsel
and Julie T. Mark of counsel), for appellant.
Silverman Shin & Byrne PLLC, New York, NY (Michael Byrne
and Andrew Achiron of counsel), for respondents.
M. LEVENTHAL, J.P. SANDRA L. SGROI SYLVIA O. HINDS-RADIX
HECTOR D. LASALLE, JJ.
DECISION & ORDER
action to recover damages for personal injuries, the
plaintiff appeals from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings
County (Partnow, J.), entered July 20, 2015, which, upon the
granting of the defendants' motion pursuant to CPLR 4401
for judgment as a matter of law, made at the close of
evidence on the issue of liability, is in favor of the
defendants and against her dismissing the complaint.
that the judgment is affirmed, with costs.
plaintiff, a bus matron for a company that provided
transportation for students to a public school in Brooklyn,
allegedly was injured when a 12-year-old student grabbed the
steering wheel of the bus, causing the bus driver to brake
suddenly and the plaintiff to fall. The plaintiff commenced
this action to recover damages for personal injuries against
the City of New York and the New York City Board of
Education. The matter proceeded to a jury trial, and at the
close of evidence on the issue of liability, the defendants
moved pursuant to CPLR 4401 for judgment as a matter of law
dismissing the complaint. The Supreme Court granted the
defendants' motion, and judgment was entered accordingly.
be awarded judgment as a matter of law pursuant to CPLR 4401,
a defendant must show that, upon viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, there is no rational
basis by which the jury could find for the plaintiff against
the moving defendant" (Seitz v TJX Cos. Inc.,
119 A.D.3d 669, 670; see Luna v Spadafora, 127
A.D.3d 933, 935; Stewart v Heralall, 116 A.D.3d 760,
760; Farrukh v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y., 227
A.D.2d 440). "The plaintiff's evidence must be
accepted as true, and the plaintiff is entitled to every
favorable inference that can be reasonably drawn
therefrom" (Stewart v Heralall, 116 A.D.3d at
760; see Wong v Tang, 2 A.D.3d 840, 840; Farrukh
v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y., 227 A.D.2d at 440).
school district may not be held liable for the negligent
performance of its governmental function of supervising
children in its charge in the absence of a special duty to
the person injured (see Dinardo v City of New York,
13 N.Y.3d 872, 874; Ferguson v City of New York, 118
A.D.3d 849; Stinson v Roosevelt U.F.S.D., 61 A.D.3d
847, 847-848; Goga v Binghamton City School Dist.,
302 A.D.2d 650, 651). Although a school district owes a
special duty to its minor students, that duty does not extend
to teachers, administrators, or other adults on or off school
premises (see Ferguson v City of New York, 118
A.D.3d at 850; Stinson v Roosevelt U.F.S.D., 61
A.D.3d at 847-848). Such a duty is "born of a special
relationship between the plaintiff and the governmental
entity" (Pelaez v Seide, 2 N.Y.3d 186,
regard to teachers, administrators, or other adults on or off
school premises, a special relationship with a municipal
defendant can be formed in three ways: "(1) when the
municipality violates a statutory duty enacted for the
benefit of a particular class of persons; (2) when it
voluntarily assumes a duty that generates justifiable
reliance by the person who benefits from the duty; or (3)
when the municipality assumes positive direction and control
in the face of a known, blatant and dangerous safety
violation" (id. at 199-200; see Applewhite
v Accuhealth, Inc., 21 N.Y.3d 420, 426; McLean v
City of New York, 12 N.Y.3d 194, 199; Cuffy v City
of New York, 69 N.Y.2d 255, 260; Giresi v City of
New York, 125 A.D.3d 601).
special relationship based upon a duty voluntarily assumed by
the municipality requires proof of the following four
elements: "(1) an assumption by the municipality,
through promises or actions, of an affirmative duty to act on
behalf of the party who was injured; (2) knowledge on the
part of the municipality's agents that inaction could
lead to harm; (3) some form of direct contact between the
municipality's agents and the injured party; and (4) that
party's justifiable reliance on the municipality's
affirmative undertaking" (Cuffy v City of New
York, 69 N.Y.2d at 260; see Valdez v City of New
York, 18 N.Y.3d 69, 80; Dinardo v City of New
York, 13 N.Y.3d at 873; Katz v Town of Clarkstown,
N.Y., 120 A.D.3d 632). Moreover, "[t]he assurance
by the municipal defendant must be definite enough to
generate justifiable reliance by the plaintiff"
(Dinardo v City of New York, 13 N.Y.3d at 874).
affording the plaintiff every inference that may properly be
drawn from the evidence presented, and considering the
evidence in a light most favorable to her, there is no
rational process by which the jury could have found that a
special relationship was formed between the plaintiff and the
defendants (see id.).
the Supreme Court properly granted the defendants' motion
pursuant to CPLR 4401 for judgment as a ...