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Oberly v. Bangs Ambulance, Inc.

Court of Appeals of New York
751 N.E.2d 457 (2001)


Facts

While being transported to a hospital by Bangs Ambulance, Inc. (Bangs) (defendant), Richard Oberly (plaintiff) was struck on his right forearm by a five-pound IV pump that had fallen off of a shelf above him after the ambulance had struck a curb. Oberly suffered bruises, pain, and cramping in his arm which he claimed limited his ability to practice as a dentist. Oberly and his wife filed suit against Bangs alleging that he had sustained a “serious injury” under the state’s No-Fault Law, Insurance Law § 5102(d). Bangs demanded that Oberly particularize the alleged “serious injury.” In response, Oberly identified four of the plausible injury standards listed in § 5102(d), namely (1) significant disfigurement; (2) permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system; (3) permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; and (4) significant limitation of use of a body organ or system. Bangs filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that the evidence failed to show that Oberly had sustained a serious injury pursuant to the No-Fault statute. In opposing the motion, Oberly abandoned all of the standards except for “permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system.” The trial court dismissed Oberly’s complaint for lack of evidence that he had suffered a serious injury. Oberly appealed. The appellate division affirmed, holding that § 5102(d) required a party claiming only a partial loss of use of an organ or member to show that the limitation be “consequential” or “significant” and that Oberly had failed to meet that burden. The Court of Appeals of New York granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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