Staircase Not Defective Using Ancient Codes (NY)
In Jackson v. Bethel A.M.E, the Appellate Division, Second Department addressed whether the defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the issue of liability after the plaintiff allegedly fell while descending an exterior staircase owned by defendants Bethel A.M.E and African American Methodist Episcopal Church (“Bethel Defendants”).
Bethel defendants retained co-defendant D’Alessandro & Son Contractors, Inc. to regrout the staircase at issue. Plaintiff alleged the staircase was defective since it did not have a handrail in the center, in violation of the 2003 and 2007 New York State Building Code.
The court stated, “….. the Bethel defendants established, prima facie, that the plaintiff did not know what had caused her to fall and that the subject staircase, which predated the 2003 and 2007 versions of the Building Code, was not required to be equipped with a handrail in the center.”
The Bethel defendants were able to show they were entitled to summary judgment by establishing 1) that plaintiff did not know the cause of her fall and 2) that the defendants were not required to have a handrail in the center of this particular staircase.
This decision serves as a reminder that if the plaintiff ever alleges that a defendants building is not up to code, it is imperative to hire an engineer to review the applicable code and to see if the alleged code violations pertain to the alleged defective condition.
Thanks to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this post. Please email Georgia Coats with any questions.