April 23, 2014 by Nicole Y. Brown New York, Premises Liability 0 comments
Why Does the Definition of “Interior Stairs” Matter in New York City?In Rondon v. Victoria’s Secret Stores, LLC, Victoria’s Secret appealed a trial verdict that found it negligent and apportioned it 75% liability. At issue was whether the set of stairs that the plaintiff tripped on were interior stairs. On appeal, Victoria’s Secret argued that the plaintiff’s accident was not caused by a defective staircase as the subject staircase had an acceptable height differential between the first and second stairs and was in compliance with NYC Administrative Code section 27-735 that regulates interior stairs. The First Department disagreed, finding that the NYC Administrative Code defined interior stairs as stairs within a building that serve as a required exit. The stairs that the plaintiff tripped over descended from the mezzanine to the lobby of the building and did not serve as an exit to the outside. So while the subject stairs allowed for exit from the Victoria’s Secret store, they did not exit the building itself and were not subject to the mandates of section 27-735. Since these were not an interior staircase, the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code applied and provides that the tolerance between the largest and smallest tread cannot exceed 3/8 of an inch. As the differential on the subject stairs was 1/2 an inch, the verdict establishing the defendant’s negligence was permitted to stand. Thanks to Michael Nunley for his contributions to this post. For more information, please contact Nicole Y. Brown at email@example.com.