NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court." Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R.1:36-3.
Plaintiff Arlene Compagnucci appeals from a January 22, 2016 order of summary judgment dismissing her personal injury action. The trial court determined there were no genuinely disputed issues of material fact from which a reasonable jury could conclude defendant Frank Collura negligently operated his vehicle at the time of the intersectional collision in which plaintiff was injured. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Plaintiff commenced her personal injury action in December 2013, alleging she sustained injuries in a vehicular accident caused by defendant's negligence. Defendant filed an answer, the parties completed discovery, and defendant moved for summary judgment.
The summary judgment motion record, construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff as required by
On the day of the collision, the stop sign was not there. It is not known why it was missing, and conceivably could have been removed by a vandal.
According to plaintiff's deposition testimony, she first saw the Ford Ranger directly in front of her, "[n]ot even a second" before the impact occurred. The front end of plaintiff's Ford Focus collided with the Ford Ranger's driver-side front tire and door. The investigating police officer, at his deposition, testified he knew from "past knowledge of the area" that there should have been a stop sign for southbound Centre Street traffic. The stop sign was not at the intersection when the accident occurred, and the officer did not know how long the stop sign had been missing.
Based on the foregoing facts, the trial court granted defendant summary judgment. The trial court noted, among other things, that plaintiff offered no proofs to challenge defendant's assertion that he was not exceeding the speed limit. The court determined plaintiff had proffered no competent evidence that created a genuinely disputed issue of fact from which reasonable jurors could conclude defendant was negligent. For these reasons, the court granted defendant summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed.
When a party appeals from an order granting summary judgment, our review is de novo and we apply the same standard as the trial court under
To prove a defendant was negligent, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) the defendant owed her a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached that duty; and (3) the plaintiff suffered an injury proximately caused by defendant's breach.
The parties do not dispute the stop sign controlling southbound Centre Street traffic had been removed before the collision occurred. Consequently, when the collision occurred, the intersection was uncontrolled. "[T]he driver to the right at an uncontrolled intersection . . . [has] the right of way,
Plaintiff presented no evidence in opposition to defendant's summary judgment motion from which a reasonable juror could conclude defendant violated
Plaintiff argues that a discrepancy in the police report as to whether the Ford Ranger was damaged on the driver's side or the passenger's side creates a genuinely disputed issue of fact. We disagree. The photographic evidence and plaintiff's own testimony establish that the front of plaintiff's Ford Focus collided with the driver's side of the Ford Ranger.
Indisputably, defendant had a duty to make proper observations as he approached and entered the intersection.
In short, "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment or order as a matter of law."