Articles Posted in Slip And Falls

The following post discusses a recent decision by the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, regarding the admissibility of “habit” evidence during a personal injury trial.  In many instances, people think of personal injury law as straightforward or “cut and dry.”  What could be complex about someone slipping and falling?  This case is an example as to how personal injury cases are not always that straightforward particularly at the trial stage.

On December 23, 2010, plaintiff Veronica Gucciardi slipped and fell on ice in a parking lot outside of a restaurant owned by the defendant, New Chopsticks House. The plaintiff sues the defendant in a negligence cause of action for personal injuries suffered as a result of the incident. The Supreme Court of Richmond County granted the defendant’s motion to preclude the introduction of evidence related to a surveillance video. The surveillance video at issue contained footage of post-accident measures taken by the employer, which showed an employee dumping a bucket of water into the parking lot. Upon granting the defendant’s motion, the plaintiff appealed. The Appellate Division held that evidence of video recordings and testimony was inadmissible.

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In Giannotti v. Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, plaintiff was a patron who brought an action against Hudson Valley Credit Union, seeking damages for personal injuries she sustained in a trip-and-fall accident in the credit union’s lobby.

On April 16, 2013, the plaintiff walked with a Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union employee towards an office presumably to discuss a banking or credit union matter.  She tripped over part of a sectional rug laid over a tile floor.  After the fall, plaintiff noticed that part of the rubber edge of the rug was bent upwards.  Plaintiff sued Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union for personal injuries.  Defendant made a motion to dismiss the case (summary judgment).  The Supreme Court of Orange County granted defendant’s motion for dismissal/summary judgment.  Plaintiff appealed.

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The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department in Bergin v Golshani, 2015 NY Slip Op 06103 [130 AD3d 767], denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss a cause of action alleging negligence.

In the slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff sought to recover damages for personal injury for defendant’s failure to inspect the area where plaintiff was injured.  Here, the plaintiff fell on a loose piece of slate on a slate stone landing.  Nassau County Supreme Court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the plaintiff’s cause of action alleging negligence.  The defendant’s cross-appealed the court’s decision denying its motion for summary judgment to dismiss the cause of action.  Continue reading

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department in Schiano v Mijul, Inc.,  2015 NY Slip Op 06910 [131 AD3d 1157], affirmed a trial court order for the imposition of sanctions for the failure to produce necessary documents in an action to recover damages for personal injuries.

The plaintiff was injured when he slipped and fell while walking in the parking lot of defendant’s premises in 2006. The plaintiff claims that he fell “due to the presence of a defective matter in maintaining the path.” The plaintiff also claimed that the defendants were reckless, careless, and negligent in failing to properly fix, repair, and maintain the area, which he walked upon. The plaintiff also argued that the defendants’ failure to maintain the area was a breach of their duty of reasonable owning, operating, and maintaining the area. As a result of the plaintiff’s fall, he claims to have suffered injuries and brought an action to recover damages for his injuries.

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The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department upheld a jury verdict that found the City of Dunkirk Housing Authority liable for a slip & fall accident that occurred one icy winter day.

The City of Dunkirk Housing Authority owns a residential facility that is open 24 hours a day. Residents leave and return to the building at all hours. In addition, visitors and healthcare workers can visit the building before 8:00 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m. However, maintenance for the facility only works between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If something happens after 4:30 p.m. that requires maintenance, maintenance will not attend to the situation until the next day after 8:00 a.m.

During the winter, a patch of ice formed on the sidewalk in the early morning. The plaintiff, a visitor to the facility, slipped and fell on the ice patch, sustaining injuries. She brought a personal injury lawsuit against the City of Dunkirk Housing Authority. The case proceeded to trial. At the end of the defense’s case, the defendant moved for a directed verdict under CPLR 4401.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department affirmed a lower court order that punished a defendant restaurant for throwing away a key piece of evidence.

The plaintiff was sitting on the outside patio of the defendant Raspberries Café & Creamery in Oneida County. The tables on the outside patio were shaded by large overhead umbrellas. One umbrella fell and hit the plaintiff’s face and head. The plaintiff sustained injuries. Thereafter, the café threw away the umbrella.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit. During the discovery process, the plaintiff requested access to the faulty umbrella. However, the defendant was unable to find the umbrella base and had already disposed of the umbrella. The plaintiff filed a motion seeking sanctions for discovery violations. The trial court granted the order and sanctioned the defendant by (1) precluding any defense evidence of the condition of the umbrella and (2) issuing an adverse inference charge.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department reversed an order issued by a trial court judge that granted a group home’s motion to dismiss in a slip & fall case that occurred at a restaurant.

The lawsuit was filed by the plaintiff’s parents on behalf of a disabled adult child. The plaintiff was an adult with disabilities who lived in a group home operated by defendant Oswego County Opportunities. Oswego County Opportunities arranged for the plaintiff, another resident, and some employees to go on an overnight trip. The group ate dinner at the defendant Old Mill Restaurant. After his dinner was served, the plaintiff became upset. He decided to walk outside to the parking lot to cool off. He stood up, walked to a side door in the dining area, walked through the side door, and then proceeded to fall straight down into the parking lot. The side door was elevated off of the ground and had no stairs that connected the doorway to the parking lot below. The plaintiff sustained injuries in his fall and brought a personal injury lawsuit against Oswego County Opportunities and Old Mill Restaurant.

Oswego County Opportunities filed a motion to dismiss the claims against it, as well as a motion seeking reimbursement for photocopying expenses that were incurred as part of responding to the complaint and filing the subsequent motion to dismiss.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department affirmed a trial court order that denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment in a personal injury case involving a dart board at a bar.

Mooney’s Sports Bar & Grill is owned by McCann’s, Inc. Daart Amusement is a company that manufactures and services dart boards for bars and restaurants. Daart installed a dart board at the sports bar. One day, the plaintiff was at Mooney’s, standing near the dart board. A patron playing darts threw a dart at the dart board, which then struck the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against McCann’s and Daart.

Both defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the complaint be dismissed. In its motion, McCann’s argued that the plaintiff’s claim was barred under the doctrine of assumption of risk. The trial court rejected this argument and denied McCann’s motion for summary judgment. McCann’s also argued that the plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of his injuries, but because McCann’s failed to include an affidavit or affirmation supporting this contention, the court declined to consider the argument.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department affirmed a trial court’s order that denied both the defendant’s motion for new trial and the defendant’s motion to reduce judgment interest rate in a personal injury case involving a lawnmower accident.

An employee of the New York City Housing Authority was mowing a lawn using a lawnmower. The plaintiff, a small child, was standing near the yard. When the lawnmower ran over a rock, the machine ingested the rock and then rapidly ejected it at the plaintiff. The rock struck the plaintiff on the left shin. The projectile rock caused serious and permanent damage. The plaintiff suffered from a large, open gash with exposed shin bone, a spiral fracture in his left tibia bone, and permanent damage to the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves in his leg. The plaintiff was immediately hospitalized and remained in the hospital for 3 days where he was outfitted with a cast and necrotic tissue was removed. The plaintiff wore the cast for 6.5 weeks. When the cast was removed, he was left with a permanent scar that ran the length of his shin. Due to permanent muscle and tendon damage, the plaintiff can no longer participate in sports.

As a result of the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority. Even though the New York City Housing Authority itself was not personally responsible for the accident, its employee was, and the employee was acting as an agent of the Housing Authority when he was mowing the lawn. Employers are responsible for the actions of their employees and can be liable when the employees act negligently while on duty and performing their work tasks. This employee was tasked with mowing lawns for properties owned by the Housing Authority. The employee must take care when mowing lawns to ensure he operates the lawn mower safely. Running over a rock is dangerous – it can damage the lawn mower and can cause an accident such as this. Because the employee acted negligently by running over the rock, the Housing Authority was liable for his negligence.

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department affirmed a trial court’s order denying the defendants’ motion for summary judgment in a personal injury case involving horseplay in a pool at a party.

The defendants hosted a party at their house. Around 1:00 a.m., the plaintiff joined some others in the pool. The pool was above-ground and equipped with a long slide. The plaintiff dove head-first down the slide. When she slid into the pool head-first, she hit her head on the bottom of the pool and sustained injuries. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, alleging the defendants were responsible for her injuries.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were prevented by the doctrine of assumption of risk. The defendants argued that the plaintiff participated in a risky activity (sliding into a pool head-first) and that the plaintiff was therefore the proximate cause of her accident. As such, the defendants argued that the complaint be dismissed. The plaintiff filed opposition papers, and the trial court judge denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The defendants appealed.

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