Segal McCambridge Prevails On Appeal In Case Where Patron Was Struck By A Train


April 27, 2012

The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed a directed verdict entered at trial in favor of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (collectively "PATH"). The plaintiff had appealed the trial court's decision barring his liability expert and granting PATH's motion for directed verdict at trial.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against PATH, as well as the maintenance company at the PATH station, for injuries he suffered when he was struck by a PATH train, after he fell onto the tracks. The plaintiff's expert opined that PATH was negligent because the train operator could have stopped the train prior to impact. PATH filed a motion to bar the plaintiff's liability expert because his opinion was a "net opinion" (merely a conclusion with no basis) and therefore inadmissible at trial. The trial court held a hearing to determine the underlying basis for the plaintiff's expert's opinion. After the hearing and argument, the trial court agreed that the expert did not have a sufficient basis for his opinions and prohibited the expert from testifying.

In a decision issued on April 26, 2012, the Appellate Division agreed with the trial court's holdings and affirmed the decision to bar the plaintiff's expert and grant a directed verdict to PATH. Specifically, the Appellate Division ruled that the expert did not base his opinions on hard data, but rather on his minimal observations, his interpretation of the accident video and from statements made by others. Additionally, the expert did not offer any testimony or opinion about the reaction times required for the train operators to observe the plaintiff and take appropriate action.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation were represented at trial and on the appeal by Segal McCambridge shareholder Christian H. Gannon and associates Dinesh U. Dadlani and David S. Kostus.

To read the decision, click here