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NY's Second Dept. Rules Criminal Activity Must Be Similar to Support Verdict

January 26, 2010

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In Beato v. Cosmopolitan Associates, LLC, the plaintiff, a tenant of defendant Cosmopolitan, was assaulted by a group of men in the lobby of the building. At trial plaintiff testified that he had previously complained to the building superintendent that a group of men was loitering in the lobby and he suspected they were selling drugs. The jury found in favor of plaintiff on the issue of liability and determined that defendant Cosmopolitan was 75% at fault. Plaintiff was awarded $1,500,000 for past pain and suffering, $250,000 for past medical expenses, $3,500,000 for future pain and suffering and $1,500,000 for future medical expenses.

On appeal, defendant Cosmopolitan argued that on the issue of liability, the judgment was not supported by legally sufficient evidence. The court found for defendant Cosmopolitan and set aside the verdict. The court explained that a landlord is only liable for the safety of its tenants when third-party criminal conduct is reasonably predictable based on prior occurrence of the same or similar criminal activity. The court held that plaintiff’s testimony concerning his previous complaints of loitering and suspected sales of drugs in the lobby was not sufficient evidence to establish that the assault was reasonably foreseeable.

Thanks to Katusia Lundi for her contribution to this post.

<a href="http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_00458.htm">http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_00458.htm</a>

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