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NY Appellate Court Grants Summary Judgement for Defense in Slip and Fall Case


A woman was walking at the corner of Water and Wall Streets in Manhattan. She was on the crosswalk and as she stepped up onto the curb, She had a slip and fall. When she fell, she tried to get up and to see what caused her slip and fall. She noticed a blob of grease on the sidewalk. The blob of grease was near a pile of garbage, garbage bags and garbage cans standing in a row. The woman noticed that the blob of grease did not trickle or drip from any of the garbage cans or garbage bags but the blob was very near them.

For the injury she sustained, she filed a complaint for damages against the City, against a non-profit district organization and the cleaning crew it had awarded a cleaning contract to. According to the woman, the non-profit district organization had the responsibility of sweeping the sidewalk at the corner of Water and Wall streets and that it had awarded the sweeping job to a cleaning contractor.

A New York Slip and Fall Lawyer said all the defendants: the City, the non-profit district organization and the cleaning contractor all filed motion for summary judgment asking that the complaint against all of them be dismissed on the ground that the complaint failed to state and to offer preliminary proof that: any of the defendants created or caused to be created the dangerous condition of the blob of grease; there is also no allegation or preliminary proof that any of the defendants had actual or constructive notice that a dangerous condition exists or that the defendants had notice of the dangerous condition but failed and refused to remedy the dangerous condition.

The only question is whether or not the complaint should be dismissed for the failure of the plaintiff to show that the defendants are liable for damages for her slip and fall.

The Court first reiterated the rule that it is the defendants who have the burden of proving that they are entitled to a summary judgment of dismissal. To do this, they themselves must present proof that they did not cause or create the dangerous condition (the blob of grease on the sidewalk); and that they had no actual or constructive notice that the dangerous condition existed.

The Court also ruled that in order for the notice to be sufficient, the defect must be visible and apparent and it must have existed for a length of time even before the accident took place giving the employees of the defendant the time and the opportunity to discover the dangerous condition and remedy it.

The Court found that clearly, there is no evidence that it was any of the defendants who put the blob of grease on the sidewalk. A Nassau County Personal Injury Lawyer said there is also no proof as to how long the blob of grease had been on the sidewalk. A supervisor for the cleaning contractor affirmed under oath that he searched their files and found not complaints regarding a blob of grease on that particular sidewalk.

The woman did not submit any evidence to rebut the evidence presented by the defendants. There is just no way to be sure how the grease came to be on the sidewalk. A Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer said any attempt at explaining how the grease got there would be mere speculation and this is not sufficient basis for liability to attach.

The Court dismissed the complaint against all the defendants.

Did you slip on the sidewalk like the woman in this case? Are you wondering if you should sue? Are you wondering whom you should sue? Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates and ask to confer with any of their New York City Slip and Fall Lawyers.

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