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Court Say Party Requesting Summary Judgement Must Demonstrate Entitlement as a Matter of Law

One of the defendants is a domestic corporation that owns and operates a residential condominium located at 333 West 56th Street in Manhattan (Premises). Each of the remaining defendants, all of whom being domestic corporations located at 340 West 57th Street in Manhattan, are the managing agents of the Premises.

Plaintiff is a New York City resident.

The Facts of the Case:

On 8 October 2005, during a period of heavy rain, plaintiff, a resident of the Premises, exited the elevator and walked across the marble lobby floor toward the mailboxes. While traversing the lobby, plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell due to water being present and sustained various injuries. A New York Injury Lawyer said the security footage of the lobby area shows the doorman mopping the floors of the entranceway from 4:12 pm until 4:13:13 pm, and plaintiff is shown slipping and falling at 4:14:23 pm, on an area which the mop appears to have passed over.

Consequently, a personal injury action was commenced for a slip and fall. Plaintiff moves for a partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. Plaintiff also moves for a special trial preference on the ground that she is more than 70 years of age.

Plaintiff commenced the action on the ground of negligence; alleging that defendants failed to maintain its lobby in a reasonably safe condition; plaintiff seeks damages, the sum of which is to be determined at trial.

Plaintiff argues that she is entitled to summary judgment because: (1) defendants created a dangerous condition when one of its employees mopped a section of the lobby prior to plaintiff’s arrival, and (2) defendants had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and failed to remedy the situation, and thus breached their duty to plaintiff.

The Ruling of the Court:

A New York Injury Lawyer under the law, a party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate its entitlement thereto as a matter of law.

To defeat summary judgment, the party opposing the motion must show that there is a material question of fact that requires a trial.

Defendants’ storm in progress argument is not applicable under the circumstances. Although defendants have submitted evidence of a storm in progress during the incident by submitting climatological data from the National Climatic Data Center, the issue of defendants’ liability is not whether defendants had a duty to clear away any accumulated water at the plaintiffs slip and fall. Videotape footage, submitted on a CD-R (and also shown frame-by-frame in printouts), clearly indicates that a doorman was mopping the entryway from 4:12 pm until 4:13:13 pm.

Here, a Westchester County Personal Injury Lawyer said the issue is whether or not defendants created a hazardous, slippery condition that caused plaintiff to slip and fall, or whether defendants had actual or constructive notice of the allegedly hazardous condition.

Based on the frame by frame surveillance footage, it would appear that the doorman mopped the area where plaintiff fell at 4:12:57 to 4:12:58 pm, and the plaintiff slipped and fell at 4:14:23 pm, as indicated on the surveillance tape. The doorman testified at his deposition that he had mopped the area where plaintiff fell. He testified that he was mopping drops off the floor, and the mop that he was using was “kind of damp”. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that the doorman saw the area where plaintiff slipped and fell a minute and a half before plaintiff’s fall. It is also reasonable to infer that the area mopped may have been wet, inasmuch as the doorman was mopping drops off the floor and passed the mop over that area. Consequently, questions of fact arises as to whether the doorman had actual notice of the allegedly wet area where plaintiff fell, and/or whether the doorman’s mopping created the condition which caused plaintiff to slip and fall.

Defendants’ contention that the doorman had mopped up any water in the area raises a triable question of fact.

The court finds that defendants did not establish, as a matter of law, that the area that the doorman mopped was dry when plaintiff slipped and fell, and that what caused plaintiff to fall was water that plaintiff herself had tracked from the mats.

Moreover, a Suffolk County Personal Injury Lawyer said the doorman’s testimony did not state that the section of the mats that plaintiff walked upon was wet, or even wet enough for plaintiffs slippers to have transferred the water to the uncovered areas of the floor.

Therefore, defendants’ cross motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint is denied.

As to plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, plaintiff essentially contends that the videotape footage, corroborated by the doorman’s and plaintiffs deposition testimony, establishes defendants’ negligence as a matter of law.

The plaintiff’s contention that the doorman did not warn plaintiff about the floor being slippery, even though he saw her coming down from the elevator and walking directly to the mail room, is without merit.

Plaintiff highlights portions of the doorman’s deposition testimony, wherein he states that he knows that the floor is marble, and that the marble becomes slippery when it is wet, and that, except for the mats which ran parallel to the elevator and perpendicular to the elevator to the outside door, there were no other mats in the lobby, and no mats from the elevator to the mail room.

To the extent that plaintiffs affidavit attempts to attribute the accident to defendants’ failure to place mats on the entire lobby floor, defendants are under no obligation to cover the entire floor with mats during a rain storm.

In addition, a general awareness that a dangerous condition may be present is legally insufficient to constitute notice of the particular condition that caused plaintiffs fall.

Only if it can be concluded, as a matter of law, that defendant was negligent, may summary judgment be granted in a negligence action. Although the doorman’s actions are clearly seen on the videotape footage, there are issues of fact as to whether the doorman created the slippery condition.

Therefore, the branch of plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment is denied.

Accordingly, defendants’ motion for summary judgment is denied; preference for trial, and the motion is otherwise denied; plaintiff’s motion is granted to the extent that she is granted a special preference for trial based on age; it is uncontested that plaintiff is currently almost 90 years old.

Accidents resulting to personal injuries may at times be caused by the negligence of another, their lack of foresight or lack of skill. A New York Personal Injury Lawyer from our firm may help shed some light on this subject matter if you have yourself involved in one. The firm’s services include a free consultation. Speak to Slip and Fall Attorneys from our firm for more insight.

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