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Third Department Rules Plaintiff Raises Insufficient Evidence of a Defective Condition and Constructive Notice

November 10, 2023

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In Guzman v. State, Plaintiff alleged that she tripped and fell after she “stepped into a cracked uneven, raised, depressed portion of the ground in the parking lot." 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 05566 (3d Dep’t Nov. 2, 2023).  Plaintiff alleged that the State of New York was negligent in maintaining the parking lot and sought to recover for her injuries.  The trial court found that Plaintiff “failed to establish the existence of an actionable dangerous condition and that defendant had not received notice of any such condition.”  Id.

The Third Department affirmed, holding that Plaintiff did not meet her burden of demonstrating a defective condition existed in the parking lot because she did not measure the hole she alleges she fell on and only briefly glanced at the hole following the fall.  Additionally, Plaintiff and her daughter testified that the weather was clear the date of the accident, but photographic and video evidence depicted a hole filled with water, which prevented the trial court from being able to effectively evaluate the alleged defective condition as it was claimed to have existed on the date of the accident.  Id.

Regarding Plaintiff’s failure to demonstrate actual or constructive notice, the Third Department cited the testimony of two Department of Transportation employees who both denied receiving any complaints about the hole where Plaintiff allegedly fell prior to Plaintiff’s accident.  The Third Department deferred to the trial court’s finding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that an actionable condition existed for a sufficient period of time to establish constructive notice thereof. Id.

Guzman v. State
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