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Novko v. State of New York

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division
728 N.Y.S.2d 259 (2001)


Facts

Paul Novko was a self-employed dairy farmer. Novko suffered spinal injuries when his vehicle was struck from behind by a state trooper’s patrol vehicle. Following the accident, Novko made significant adjustments in his farming work to reduce stress on his spine, including changing his storage and baling systems, remodeling farm buildings, hiring additional employees, and taking on a management role more often. Novko and his wife (plaintiffs) sued the State of New York (defendant), claiming past and future pain and suffering and loss of earning capacity. The trial court found the state to be fully liable, but found that Novko failed to mitigate his damages because he could have taken on another full-time job, such as selling farm equipment, that would have put less stress on his spine. The court awarded no damages for loss of earning capacity, and awarded damages for past and future pain and suffering limited to the approximately one-year period following the accident, finding that Novko’s pain and suffering after that point was the result of his failure to mitigate his damages. Novko and his wife appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Spain, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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