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New York's Finest at Their Worst

August 4, 2016

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In Culler v. City of New York, the plaintiff was enjoying a swim at a public pool when he was threatened by a group of fellow swimmers. He reported the incident to a police officer who told him the pool was closing and he had to leave. When the plaintiff walked outside, he saw the group waiting for him with sticks and bottles. He again informed the officer who told him to just walk home. When the plaintiff left, he was chased by the group and attacked with the bottles. He fell and broke his ankle.

The First Department held that as a general rule a municipality can not be held liable for injuries resulting from the failure to provide adequate police protection. However, under the "special relationship" exception, liability will arise if the officer assumed an affirmative duty and the plaintiff relied on this undertaking. Unfortunately, the court found that, in the present case, the officer's refusal to protect the plaintiff shielded him from liability.

Thanks to Georgia G. Stagias for her contribution to this post.

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