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Knock, Knock..Make Sure to Ask “Who’s There?”

May 17, 2024

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There are often many avenues to finding an apartment complex liable for any injury that occurs to a plaintiff while on the premises, even in their own apartment. However, a recent first department case found otherwise. In Weiss v. Park Towers S.Co.,LLC, the court held that where a plaintiff tenant invited the possibility of danger into their own unit, plaintiff acted as an intervening and superseding proximate cause of the attack, and the building could not be held liable for his injuries.


In Weiss, plaintiff was conducting a patient session in his home when an assailant barged into his home demanding certain documents that belonged to the plaintiffs ex-partner. Plaintiff was able to successfully expel the assailant out of his apartment. Once his patient session was over, plaintiff was made aware that the assailant was roaming in the common areas of the building. Plaintiff confronted him and after a brief discussion, permitted him to enter his apartment and use the bathroom. While in the apartment, the assailant suddenly emerged from the bathroom and attacked him with a sledgehammer and knife. Plaintiff sued his apartment building, raising concerns over the buildings security protocol in allowing the assailant to wander the building for an extended period of time and allowing him to freely re-enter the building after having left the first time.


The court held that when a plaintiff invites the possibility of danger, or fails to take measures against a threat, the plaintiff breaks the causal chain that would otherwise hold a building complex negligent for these types of security breaches. In Weiss, plaintiff knowingly allowed the assailant, who had bizarrely barged into his apartment merely minutes before, and constituted an intervening act and superseding proximate cause. The court held that the defendant building owner and management company should be awarded summary judgment.

 

Weiss v. Park Towers South Company LLC
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