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City Not Taking the Fall for Sidewalk Slip (NY)

October 4, 2019

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In <a href=""><em>Gomez v. New York City,</em></a> plaintiff tripped and fell on a defect in the sidewalk in front of 39-05 103rd Street in Queens and sued as a result of her injuries. Plaintiff commenced this action amongst several defendants including the City of New York. The City moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and all cross claims asserted against it on the ground that it was shielded from liability by Administrative Code of the City of New York § 7-210. Under § 7-210, also known as the City Sidewalk Law, the City shall not be held liable for injuries arising from a defective sidewalk; rather, the abutting property owner shall be liable for such for injuries except when they occur due to defects on sidewalks abutting one-, two-, or three-family residential properties that are owner occupied and used exclusively for residential purposes.

In response to the City's motion for summary judgment, two of the other defendants attempted to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the subject defect was created by the City's affirmative act of negligence. In their oppositions, they contended that the photographs of plaintiff's accident location demonstrated that the alleged defect was created when a City-owned parking meter was removed from the sidewalk.

The Appellate Division, Second Department determined that the defendants failed to raise a triable issue of fact as the plaintiff did not describe the defect as a hole that would have supported a parking meter post. The court also relied on how the defendants submitted no other evidence in support of this speculative theory that the defect was caused by the removal of a parking meter.

This decision serves as an important reminder that there has been a shift in liability from the City to property owners in particular sidewalk defect cases.

Thank you to Caitlin Larke for her contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="">Colleen E. Hayes</a> with any questions.


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