Alan Kaminsky Wins New York’s Oldest Case, Longest Trial
Lewis Brisbois Partner Alan Kaminsky on Tuesday obtained a defense verdict for his client in what is believed to be the oldest active case in New York, less than two years after winning a directed verdict for his client in the longest jury trial in Manhattan Supreme Court.
A New York jury found that a bus manufactured by Warrick Industries Inc. and involved in a single-vehicle rollover accident was not defective despite not being equipped with seat belts.
The suit dates back to 1994, when a bus driver fell asleep at the wheel, moved across the highway, and drove onto a sloped embankment, where the bus rolled several times after the driver woke up and attempted to steer the bus back to the roadway.
Those injured in the accident subsequently sued the driver, bus owner Best Transit Corp., and bus manufacturer Warrick. Since its inception, the case has gone through numerous appeals, including the Court of Appeals and a 2015 ruling reversing and vacating judgments entered against Warrick.
In the instant trial, there was no question as to whether or not the owner was responsible for the accident. Rather, the jury was asked to consider if the bus was defective in light of Warrick’s failure to install seat belts, which were offered as an option but that the buyer of the bus chose not to purchase. The jury also had to decide whether Warrick breached any implied warranty for the lack of seat belts.
The plaintiffs and their experts argued that, irrespective of the lack of a federal requirement mandating seat belts, good engineering practices necessitated the installation of seat belts, which they claimed would have protected them from being ejected from the bus and minimized their injuries.
Kaminsky countered that the bus wasn’t defective since there was no federal, state, or local law requiring bus manufacturers to install seat belts in that specific type of bus at the time the bus was made or today.
The jury awarded a total of more than $30 million in damages for the three plaintiffs, all of which was against the bus owner and its driver, resulting in a defense verdict for Warrick.
Kaminsky was assisted in the Warrick trial by trial consultant Jasen Abrahamsen.
The victory comes on the heels of Kaminsky’s 2015 victory in the longest-ever jury trial in Manhattan Supreme Court, and potentially the longest trial in the state. After nine months of testimony, a jury awarded more than $96 million to the families of two construction workers killed in a crane collapse, but the court ruled that our client, the general contractor of the site, was not liable for the accident.