Clausen Miller Wins Dismissal at Trial for Consolidated Edison Company of New York and Its Tree Pruning Contractor
Clausen Miller shareholder Christopher Scanlon and associate Yesy Sanchez obtained a verdict in favor of their clients after a full jury trial in Richmond County, one of the five boroughs of New York City. Plaintiff and her father were driving in Staten Island when part of a tree that had recently been pruned on behalf of Con Ed by its Staten Island tree pruning contractor, Lewis Tree Service Inc., fell and landed on their car. Plaintiff initially sued the property owner where the tree was located, who in turn sued Con Ed, several other entities with lines on the utility poles, and eventually Lewis Tree Service who performed the pruning of the tree in question and all the other trees along Con Ed’s power lines. Plaintiff had multi-level cervical surgery within weeks of the first hard trial date and sought to introduce these case altering allegations at trial. The trial was rescheduled and six days before the new hard trial date, plaintiff disclosed a new expert theory of liability as to Con Ed and Lewis Tree Service and, the day of jury selection, forewent use of the expert whose opinions had been previously disclosed and were directed at Lewis Tree Service and Con Ed regarding liability. The court allowed the new expert theory to be presented to the jury and refused a missing witness charge for failure to call the originally disclosed expert notwithstanding no explanation being offered for the failure to do so. The court declined Chris and Yesy’s motion for a directed verdict, finding that plaintiff had made a prima facie showing of her claims, and that the jury must decide the case.
Despite these obstacles, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Con Ed and Lewis Tree Service, finding no liability on the part of either. Congrats to the defense team.