How did you fall? is a question asked at any trip and fall case deposition of plaintiff. Plaintiffs have to be carefully prepared to answer this question, as it can be awfully important. Courts and juries like to hear certain phrases and descriptions. A casual “I’m not sure” or other answer which does not specify the method of falling can kill a case.
Walker v Shaevitz & Shaevitz 2021 NY Slip Op 01799 Decided on March 24, 2021 Appellate Division, Second Department is a legal malpractice case filed after a personal injury case was dismissed for a vague answer.
“The Supreme Court, upon reargument, properly granted the law firm’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. “‘In moving for summary judgment dismissing a complaint alleging legal malpractice, a defendant must present evidence establishing, prima facie, that it did not breach the duty to exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession, or that the plaintiff did not sustain actual and ascertainable damages as a result of such deviation'” (Dominguez v Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C., 180 AD3d 646, 647, quoting Mazzurco v Gordon, 173 AD3d 1003, 1003). Here, the law firm established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law through the submission of the transcript of Walker’s deposition testimony in the underlying action which showed that she could not identify the cause of her fall (see Colini v Stino, Inc., 186 AD3d 1610, 1611; Ash v City of New York, 109 AD3d 854, 856) and that, even if the law firm had breached its duty to the plaintiffs, they would not have prevailed in the underlying action because Walker was unable to identify the cause of her fall without engaging in speculation (see Hamoudeh v Mandel, 62 AD3d 948, 949; see also Markowitz v Kurzman Eisenberg Corbin Lever & Goodman, LLP, 82 AD3d 719, 719).
In opposition, the plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact. Walker’s deposition testimony and affidavit in this action are contrary to her deposition testimony in the underlying action and merely raised a feigned issue of fact insufficient to defeat summary judgment (see Mallen v Dekalb Corp., 181 AD3d 669, 670; Dominguez v Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C., 180 AD3d at 648).”