United States District Court, N.D. New York
MARTIN W. CASTLE, JR., Plaintiff,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
MAINETTI, MAINETTI & O'CONNOR, P.C. JOSEPH E.
O'CONNOR, ESQ. MICHAEL E. KOLB, ESQ. Counsel for
GRANT C. JAQUITH CATHLEEN B. CLARK, ESQ. Acting United States
Attorney for the N.D.N.Y. Assistant United States Attorney
Counsel for Defendant James T. Foley U.S. Courthouse
DECISION AND ORDER
T. SUDDABY, Chief United States District Judge
before the Court, in this negligence action pursuant to the
Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) filed by Martin
W. Castle, Jr., ("Plaintiff") against the United
States of America (“Defendant”), are the
following three motions: (1) Plaintiff's motion for
partial summary judgment; (2) Defendant's motion for
summary judgment; and (3) Plaintiff's cross-motion
requesting the exclusion of certain evidence under
Fed.R.Evid. 403. (Dkt. Nos. 51, 57, 62.) For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiff's motion for partial summary
judgment is granted in part and denied in part,
Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted in
part and denied in part, and Plaintiff's cross-motion is
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint asserts two distinct
claims. (Dkt. No. 40 [Am. Compl.].) First, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant is liable for personal injuries, property
damages, and other injuries and damages that he sustained in
a motor vehicle accident on June 6, 2014, which involved
Plaintiff's motorcycle and a postal vehicle driven by an
employee of Defendant (“First Claim”).
(Id. at 2-5.) Second, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant is liable for personal injuries, property damage,
and other injuries and damages resulting from the June 6,
2014, motor vehicle accident because Defendant's
employees were negligent, careless, and acted with reckless
disregard for the safety of others when devising (and failing
to change) a mail route that required USPS drivers to violate
New York Veh. & Traff. Law (“VTL”) §
1161 and act in a manner that is hazardous to other
motorists, including Plaintiff (“Second Claim”).
(Id. at 5-7.)
Undisputed Material Facts on Plaintiff's Motion for
reciting the material facts related to Plaintiff's
motion, the Court must address Defendant's failure to
fully comply with Local Rule 7.1 of the Local Rules of
Practice for this Court. Local Rule 7.1(a)(3) requires a
Statement of Material Facts that sets forth, in numbered
paragraphs, each material fact about which the moving party
contends there exists no genuine dispute, supported by a
specific citation to the record where that fact is
established. N.D.N.Y. L.R. 7.1(a)(3). The opposing party must
file a response to the Statement of Material Facts that
mirrors that Statement by admitting and/or denying each of
the movant's assertions in matching numbered paragraphs,
supported by specific citations to the record where the
factual issue arises. Id. If the opposing party does
not specifically controvert any properly supported facts in
the Statement of Material Facts, the Court shall deem them to
be admitted. Id.
responding to Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts,
Defendant did not file a statement with corresponding
numbered paragraphs in accordance with Local Rule 7.1(a)(3).
(Dkt. No. 61, at 2-4 [Def.'s Opp'n Mem. of
Law].) Defendant argues that Plaintiff did not
submit a Statement of Material Facts with numbered paragraphs
to which it could respond; however, Plaintiff did indeed
submit numbered paragraphs containing asserted facts that
Defendant was required to admit or deny. The only specific
fact from Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts that
Defendant explicitly denies is Paragraph 16, in which
Defendant argues that, contrary to Plaintiff's assertion,
Defendant did not intend to admit that Mr. Wachtel violated
VTL Section 1161, citing to a correction it made to a typo in
its response to Plaintiff's interrogatories.
(Id. at 2-3; Dkt. No. 61, Attach. 1, at 2.)
Consequently, with the exception of this single supported
denial, Defendant's failure to admit or deny the
remainder of the facts means that this Court deems those
unaddressed facts that are supported by the record evidence
otherwise noted, the following facts were asserted and
supported with accurate record citations by Plaintiff in his
Statement of Material Facts and either admitted based on
similar statements made in Defendant's Statement of
Material Facts or based on Defendant's failure to deny
specific facts. (Compare Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 17
[Pl.'s Rule 7.1 Statement] with Dkt. No. 61, at
2-4 [Def.'s Opp'n Mem. of Law].)
1. On June 6, 2014, David Wachtel was employed by the United
States Postal Service (“USPS”).
2. On that day, he was operating a postal vehicle known as a
long life vehicle (“LLV”) in the course of such
3. Defendant contends that, at the time of the incident in
question, Mr. Wachtel was “actually engaged in work on
a highway” within the meaning of VTL § 1103(b)
because Mike Krout Road was and is a public highway and
“Mr. Wachtel was working within the course of his
employment with the USPS by delivering mail on Rural Route 6
in accordance with that Route's line of travel.” 4.
Defendant relies on no other facts in support of its
contention that Mr. Wachtel was “actually engaged in
work on a highway” within the meaning of Section
5. Defendant does not contend that, on June 6, 2014, Mr.
Wachtel constructed, repaired, or maintained any roads that
were part of Rural Route 6.
6. Defendant does not contend that, on June 6, 2014, it was
Mr. Wachtel's intention to construct, repair, or maintain
any roads that were part of Rural Route 6, or that he was
assigned to do so.
7. Defendant does not contend that the LLV that Mr. Wachtel
was operating on June 6, 2014, was designed or equipped to
perform any kind of road construction, repair, or maintenance
8. On June 6, 2014, Plaintiff was operating a motorcycle in
an easterly direction on Mike Krout Road.
9. On June 6, 2014, as Plaintiff was proceeding in an
easterly direction on Mike Krout Road, Mr. Wachtel made a
U-turn, as defined in VTL § 158-a, on that road at or
near 100 Mike Krout Road.
10. On that day, as the postal vehicle was making such a
U-turn, there was contact between the LLV and the motorcycle
being operated by Plaintiff.
11. The contact occurred in the vicinity of 100 Mike Krout
Road in the Town of Saugerties, State of New York.
12. As a result of the contact or impending contact,
Plaintiff was caused to be ejected from the motorcycle and
sustained personal injuries.
13. The part of Mike Krout Road that is in front of 100 Mike
Krout Road is on a curve.
14. Section 1161(a) of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law
provides that “[n]o motor vehicle shall make a U-turn
upon any curve, or upon the approach to, or near the crest of
a grade, where such motor vehicle cannot be seen by the
driver of any other motor vehicle approaching from either
direction within five hundred feet.” 15. The LLV at 100
Mike Krout Road would not have been visible to a vehicle
approaching from the east if it was 500 feet away from the
16. Mr. Wachtel pled guilty to violating Section 1161(a).
17. Plaintiff's line of sight from the point where he
came out of the curve on Mike Krout Road to 100 Mike Krout
Road was estimated by Defendant's expert, Eugene
Camerota, to be approximately 336 feet and by Plaintiff's
expert to be less than 350 feet.
18. Plaintiff presented a claim to the USPS on August 5,
Undisputed Material Facts on Defendant's Motion for
otherwise noted, the following facts were asserted and
supported with accurate record citations by Defendant in his
Statement of Material Facts and expressly admitted by
Plaintiff in his response thereto or denied without
appropriate record citations. (Compare Dkt. No. 57,
Attach. 2 [Def.'s Rule 7.1 Statement] with Dkt.
No. 62, Attach. 3 [Pl.'s Rule 7.1 Resp.].)
1. Plaintiff's lawsuit arises out of a motor vehicle
accident that occurred in the late morning on June 6, 2014.
2. June 6, 2014, was a clear, sunny day in Saugerties, New
3. The accident occurred at 100 Mike Kraut Road, Saugerties,
4. Mike Krout Road is a publically maintained road that is
open to the public for purposes of vehicular traffic.
5. When the accident occurred, Plaintiff was driving a 1980
Yamaha 400 Special motorcycle on Mike Krout
6. Before the accident, Plaintiff's father had noticed
that the rear tire needed replacing.
7. Plaintiff's father informed Plaintiff that the rear
tire needed replacement.
8. Plaintiff's father did not anticipate that anyone
would ride the motorcycle until he had an opportunity to
replace the bald rear tire.
9. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was heading home on
Mike Krout Road after leaving his work at Blue Mountain
10. Mr. Wachtel was driving the USPS vehicle that Plaintiff
hit on June 6, 2014.
11. At the time of the accident, Mr. Wachtel was a rural mail
carrier for the USPS.
12. At the time of the accident, Mr. Wachtel had been
employed as a mail carrier for the USPS for the prior 28
13. At the time of the accident, Mr. Wachtel was engaged in
his work for the USPS delivering mail along Mike Krout Road.
14. Mr. Wachtel's mail route, which took him along Mike
Krout Road, was known as Rural Route 6.
15. The mail route that Mr. Wachtel was required to follow
for Rural Route 6 was set forth on PS Form 4003, also known
as a “line of travel report.”
16. Rural Route 6 required that the carrier turn around at
100 Mike Krout Road.
17. When Mr. Wachtel departed the Saugerties Post Office on
the morning of June 6, 2014, to perform his mail deliveries,
the four-way hazard lights on Mr. Wachtel's LLV were
operational and were in the “on” position.
18. In order to fulfill their mission of delivering mail,
USPS rural letter carriers must make frequent stops and drive
below the posted speed limit.
19. In order to deliver mail, rural carriers must also
frequently ride on the shoulder of busy roads and perform
U-turns in the middle of a road.
20. These operations and maneuvers will restrict, impede, or
interfere with the normal flow of traffic.
21. The USPS mail trucks, known as LLVs, are equipped with
hazard lights that are utilized when a USPS driver is engaged
in the delivery of mail.
22. Mr. Wachtel first started as the mail carrier on Rural
Route 6 in 1988.
23. Mr. Wachtel switched to a different route for a time, but
he returned to ...