University of Vermont AAHS

O’Mara v. City of New York

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department , New York

2006 WL 2076974

July 27, 2006

Summary of Opinion

Plaintiff, a mounted police officer, was thrown from her horse in the practice ring.  She unsuccessfully sued the City of New York for negligence.  She was not wearing a helmet and suffered a head injury.  She was unable to recall the accident and her expert testified that a properly fitted helmet would not always protect a person’s head from a hard impact.  This court affirms the trial court’s denial of a motion to set aside the verdict saying that the failure to provide a properly fitting helmet was not a substantial cause of the accident.

Text of Opinion

 Judgment, Supreme Court, Bronx County (Anne E. Targum, J.), entered January 12, 2005, after a jury trial, upon a verdict in favor of defendants, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

A verdict should not be set aside unless the jury could not have reached its verdict on any fair interpretation of the evidence (McDermott v. Coffee Beanery, 9 A.D.3d 195, 206 [2004] ). Particular deference is to be accorded a jury verdict in favor of a defendant in a tort action (id. at 206-207, 777 N.Y.S.2d 103). Thus, given that plaintiff, a mounted police officer who suffered a severe injury to the right temple area of her head, was unable to recall being thrown from her horse in the practice ring, and given her expert's concession that, depending on the circumstances, a properly fitted riding helmet would not always protect a person's head from a hard impact, the trial court properly denied plaintiff's motion to set aside, as against the weight of the evidence, the jury's verdict that, although the City was negligent in failing to provide plaintiff with a properly fitted helmet, such negligence was not a substantial cause of her accident.

 We have considered plaintiff's other points regarding allegedly inconsistent findings, the allegedly improper bifurcation of the trial, the court's limitation of questioning of plaintiff's expert, and the submission of the issue of defendant Gonzalez's comparative negligence to the jury, and find them unavailing.


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