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A.D. Says Installer and Cleaner Not Responsible For Broken Handrail That Caused Accident

January 16, 2008

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In Peters v. Trammell Crow Co., 2008 NY Slip Op 00055, AD and New York Co. Index 101297/03, Frank Peters, plaintiff and an employee of the building owner, fell on an interior set of stairs and injured himself when a handrail broke in half. The handrail had been allegedly installed 10 years before the accident by ARI Products, Inc. Trammell Crow Company, the property manager, contracted with Triangle Services, Inc., for janitorial services, pursuant to written contract.
Motions for summary judgment by ARI Products, Inc., and Triangle Services, Inc., were denied by the trial court but were granted by the Appellate Division - First Department. The Appellate Court found that Triangle Services' contract to be unambiguous, only requiring it to provide cleaning and janitorial services. Additionally, none of the building engineering and maintenance personnel were under Triangle's supervision or control.
As for ARI, notwithstanding the question of whether or not it installed the handrail, the Appellate Division deemed the affidavit from plaintiffs' achitectural expert to be conclusory and unable to raise a question of fact as to whether the handrail was improperly installed. Moreover, the subject handrail had been repaired twice by the building's maintenance staff after its installation and before plaintiff's accident, which the Court deemed an intervening act that allowed legal cause to be decided as a matter of law.
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