top of page

News

Review All Amendments to Statutes to Ascertain Applicability

May 16, 2016

Share to:

New York Multiple Dwelling Law §53 provides that vertical ladder fire escapes built after 1929 are unlawful. In addition, a 1948 amendment to this provision requires owners of multiple dwelling buildings to renovate these fire escapes <em>regardless</em> of when the fire escape was originally constructed.
In <em><a href="http://cases.justia.com/new-york/other-courts/2014-2014-ny-slip-op-32218-u.pdf?ts=1408659541">Klupchak v. First East Village Associates</a>, </em>plaintiff climbed through the kitchen window of a friend’s Manhattan apartment onto the vertical ladder fire escape which had a gap at the edge of the platform leading to the level below.  The fire escape was constructed prior in 1929.  While attempting to re-enter the apartment, plaintiff’s boot heel got caught between the slats of the fire escape platform causing her to fall through the opening, landing on her back, approximately twelve feet below the platform.
Plaintiff sued the building owner alleging her accident was caused by the improper operation and maintenance of the fire escape in violation of Multiple Dwelling Law §53. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds Multiple Dwelling Law §53 was inapplicable since it only applied to fire escapes erected <em>after </em>1929.
The lower Court agreed with defendant, finding Multiple Law §53 was inapplicable since the fire escape was built prior to 1929. Plaintiff moved for re-argument, maintaining pursuant to the 1948 amendment, a vertical fire escape was unlawful when annexed to any multiple dwelling, regardless of when the fire escape was built.  The lower Court granted plaintiff re-argument, and upon re-argument, granted plaintiff summary judgment on this point.  The Appellate Division affirmed finding that the 1948 legislature required multiple-dwelling building owners to remove and replace the vertical fire escapes with code compliant fire escapes (i.e. fire escapes with balconies and stairways) regardless of when the original fire escape was constructed.
In sum, when analyzing liability under a specific statute, be sure to review the applicability of all amendments before rendering an opinion as to the extent of your client’s liability.
Thanks to Caroline Freilich for her contribution to this post.
&nbsp;
&nbsp;
&nbsp;

Headshot of Staff Member
Button
Button
Button
Button

Contact

bottom of page