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Notice To Wrong Town Official Of Defect Is Not Proper Notice To Town

April 16, 2009

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In Gorman v. Town of Huntington, the plaintiff s commenced a personal injury action against the town due to an alleged uneven sidewalk in front of a local church. Four months prior to the plaintiff's accident, the pastor of the church sent a written complaint to the town's Department of Engineering Services, which is responsible for sidewalks, complaining of the condition and requesting a repair of the sidewalk.
The Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division ruling and held that the Town of Huntington was entitled to summary judgment because the town did not receive prior written notice pursuant to the specific language of a local statute pertaining to notice
The local statute designated the Town Clerk or the Town Superintendent of Highways as proper receipts of written notice of sidewalks defects. By statute, notice to a department that was not enumerated in the statute would invalidate the notice. Since the Department of Engineering Services was not a statutory designess, notice to the department was deemed insignificant.
Thanks to Maju Varghese for his contribution to this submission
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