Does a Property Owner have a Duty to Protect against a Driver who Jumps a Curb and Crashes into Their Building? (NY)
In Collins v. Delaware Ave. Enters, Inc., the Appellate Division, Second Department addressed whether the defendant was entitled to summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint.
Plaintiff brought this cause of action when a motor vehicle jumped a curb and sidewalk and crashed into a strip mall owned by the defendants. At the time of the crash, plaintiff was inside of the building when the vehicle struck him after going through the front window.
The court stated, “A property owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition”. “However, there is no legal duty to protect against an occurrence which is extraordinary in nature and, as such, would not suggest itself to a reasonably careful and prudent person as one which should be guarded against.” There will ordinarily be no duty imposed on a defendant to prevent a third party from causing harm to another unless the intervening act which caused the plaintiff’s injuries was a normal or foreseeable consequence of the situation created by the defendant’s negligence”. (citations omitted)
The court held that the defendants were properly granted summary judgment because they 1) maintained their premises in a “reasonably safe condition” and that it did not have a duty to protect plaintiff against the “unforeseen intervening conduct” of the driver.
This decision serves as a reminder that although property owners have a duty to maintain its premises in a safe condition, that the duty does not extend to unforeseen conduct.
Thanks to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this post. Please email Georgia Coats with any questions.