Nosy Neighbor Raises Question Of Fact In NY
In September 2017, plaintiff in Abramson v. Janowski’s Hamburgers Inc tripped and fell over a crack in a sidewalk in residential Rockville Center, NY. Across the street from where she was injured is the loading dock and driveway of defendants, a wholesale and retail hamburger products business. Plaintiff alleged that defendants affirmatively caused and created the defective sidewalk condition on the public property. In opposing defendants’ motion for summary judgment, plaintiff produced the testimony and evidence provided by defendants’ neighbor who had lived on the block for over 50 years. That neighbor regularly saw 18-wheel trucks coming and going from his street and testified that he observed defendant employees guiding the trucks onto the sidewalk while assisting them up to the loading dock. The neighbor had even taken photographs of tire marks near the alleged defect upon which plaintiff later fell and who saw the employees directing the trucks.
At oral argument, the Court opined that although there was no video surveillance there was a very “nosy neighbor,” for whom plaintiff’s counsel was grateful. The Second Department, Appellate Division, decided that the evidence provided by that neighbor raised a triable issue of fact as to whether defendants caused or created the sidewalk defect by directing the trucks onto the sidewalk, and reversed summary judgment.This case highlights the importance of conducting a thorough investigation in bringing or defending against such premises liability claims, including knocking on doors hoping for a nosy neighbor. Thanks to Abed Bhuyan for his contribution to this post. Please contact Abed with any questions.