This action involves a claim for damages arising out of personal injury suffered by plaintiff Mrs. DB as a result of the alleged negligence of defendant Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MABSTOA). At approximately 9:00 A.M. on December 20, 1979, plaintiff, accompanied by her young son, boarded one of defendant’s buses at Williamsbridge Road and Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx. It had snowed the previous day, leaving an accumulation of some three to three and one-half inches. The weather report for the morning of the accident indicated that the temperature was in the low 20’s. As plaintiff got onto the bus, she noticed that there was slush present on all of the front steps. The vehicle was not crowded, and it made about four or five stops before it reached plaintiff’s intended destination. She then pulled on the signal cord, and the bus halted at the intersection of Bogart and Morris Avenues. She walked back to the front with her son, again observing the slush on the stairs. Standing on the platform leading to the stairwell, she uneventfully assisted her child off the vehicle. Thereafter, she stood up and, holding one hand on the railing, she descended the first step and fell backward onto the stairs, striking against them with her back, left arm and left shoulder, her knees in the slush and her legs bent under her body.
Police Officer DS, who arrived at the scene shortly after the accident, testified with the aid of notes made on the scene that he spoke to both the bus driver and plaintiff. He stated that there was slush on the front stairs of the bus. Moreover, the vehicle was resting at a steep incline at the bus stop, causing it to lean excessively. Although several pages of the Officer’s memo book were marked for identification and read to the jury, the portion relating to the slant of the bus was ordered stricken. According to the officer, the steps were more than just wet, there being a build-up of snow.
The bus driver also took the stand, asserting that while there has been some slush on the steps, the other people on the bus had gotten on and off without any difficulty. Following the accident, he had informed the bus company by telephone, and one of its dispatchers had arrived at the scene. The driver conceded that he had not cleaned the stairs or placed any salt or other material on them nor had he been instructed to do so by the bus company. The written report of the accident prepared by the dispatcher was also entered into evidence.
In its charge, the court instructed the jury that the standard of care applicable to a situation such as the one herein is that: A common carrier, such as the defendant here has the duty to exercise reasonable care and diligence to keep its bus steps reasonably clear of snow and ice. The fact that a passenger falls on snow or ice and is injured does not, of itself, make the common carrier liable.
to Be Cont..