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No Notice of Defect, No Lawsuit Against Nassau County

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Be careful when trying to sue a State or County. There are many different rules that apply to them!

 

Plaintiff was allegedly injured when she slipped and fell over a piece of metal rebar that was protruding from a concrete island in the parking lot of the Nassau County Family Court. The lower court denied the County’s motion for summary judgment; however the 2nd Department reversed their decision finding that the County was entitled to summary judgment and the complaint should be dismissed. But why?

 

Turns out, the rule is, “[w]here . . . a municipality has enacted a prior written notice law, it may not be subjected to liability for injuries caused by a dangerous condition which comes within the ambit of the law unless it has received prior written notice of the alleged defect or dangerous condition, or an exception to the prior written notice requirement applies” (Panzavecchia v. County of Nassau, 211 A.D.3d 846, 847). Here, Nassau County had a written notice statute that says it cannot be sued for injuries sustained by their sidewalks unless they had written notice of it. One exception to this rule is if the municipality created the defect through an act of negligence and it is up to the Plaintiff to prove this. Definitely an intricate rule and a heavy burden.

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