Hyppolite v. Johnson
Justice Jack Battaglia
Hyppolite alleged she sustained injuries when the vehicle in which she was a passenger, owned and operated by Johnson, collided with a vehicle owned and operated by Massaro. Massaro moved to dismiss the complaint and cross-claims against him. He argued "estoppel" based on a prior order and decision in another action by Justice Phelan in which insurer Progressive alleged fraudulent claims, arguing the accident was staged. Phelan held Progressive was entitled to summary judgment against answering, and non-answering defendants, including Hyppolite. Massaro argued that the determination the accident was staged relieved him of any fault. Yet, the court stated Massaro did not contend Phelan determined Massaro's freedom from fault in causing the accident, as there was no determination of Massaro's participation in the "staged accident." It concluded whatever implication might arise from the stipulation of discontinuance as to Massaro was not a basis for preclusive effect regarding anything in the instant action. Also, Phelan's decision did not show or lead to a conclusion that Johnson's conduct was the sole proximate cause of the collision such that Hyppolite could not recover against Massaro for any alleged negligence on his part, and motion to dismiss was denied.