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First Department Reverses NY Supreme Ruling on "Triable Issues of Fact"

May 20, 2010

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Under §7-210 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, a property owner is responsible to maintain the sidewalk abutting their property and keeping it in a reasonably safe condition. Moreovoer, liability for an accident on a sidewalk abutting real property will arise if a plaintiff can establish that the owner of the abutting property either created or had prior notice of the allegedly dangerous condition.

In Early v Hilton Hotels Corp., 2010 NY Slip Op 04235 (1st Dept. 2010) plaintiff was injured on the sidewalk abutting the owners' premises, when she tripped and fell due to a plastic strap. In granting summary judgment to the defendants, the Court notes that defendants established lack of actual notice via the testimony of an employee at their loading dock, who testified that he never saw any plastic straps anywhere on the ground on the date in question. Plaintiff testified that she had never seen any plastic straps on the ground either. Based primariliy upon these two depositions, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. Given the facts, the First Department's decision should not be surprising. What should be surprising, however, is that in order to reach this decision, a unanimous reversal of the New York County Supreme Court decision was required.

Thanks to Brian Gibbons to his contribution to this post.

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