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Frequent Elevator Misalignment Creates Issues of Fact (NY)

October 8, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">Napolitano v. Jackson "78" Condominium</a>,</em> the Appellate Division, Second Department addressed whether the defendants were entitled to summary judgment when plaintiff tripped while stepping into an elevator owned and/or managed by the defendants.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong><em> </em></strong>The Supreme Court granted the defendants motions for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against them. Plaintiff allegedly tripped while going into the defendant’s elevator, and when she entered the elevator it was misaligned with the floor of the building’s lobby – which caused her fall.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Appellate Division stated that "A property owner can be held liable for an elevator-related injury where there is a defect in the elevator, and the property owner has actual or constructive notice of the defect" (citations omitted). Although the defendant-property owners were able to establish that no complaints were ever made about the misalignment of the elevator, and that they performed routine inspections, plaintiff was able to raise a triable issue of fact whether the defendants had notice of the defective elevator. Specifically, plaintiff submitted an affidavit from another tenant in the building which asserted that she frequently observed misalignment of the elevator and that a member of the condo board acknowledged the problem in her presence. In addition, plaintiff’s expert alleged the defendants performed an unsatisfactory inspection three days before the accident.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This decision serves as a reminder that property owners likely will not prevail on summary judgment if the defect at issue has frequently been an issue in the past and if they perform unsatisfactory inspections of the defect.</p>
Thanks to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this post.  Any questions, please contact <a href="">Georgia Coats</a>.


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