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Plaintiff Sues Town for Slip and Fall Injuries, NY Appellate Court Denies Defendant’s Summary Judgement Motion


A dad came to watch his son play baseball in the ball field of North Hempstead. He was walking to the bleachers when he had a slip and fall. His foot fell into a hole that had a water main valve. The dad claimed that the hole may have had a cover but that it had slid off when he stepped on it or, the cover did not fully cover the hole. He claims to have sustained personal injury as a result of the slip and fall.

The ball field was maintained by the town of North Hempstead. The town hired a team of groundskeepers whose job was to inspect the ball field and to maintain it. Records produced by the town government show that on the morning of May 14, 2007, the groundskeepers inspected the ball field and did not see any cover of any water main valve as loose or as having slid off or missing. There were no reports of any uncovered holes around the ball field. There was no report or notice of any hole around the ball field.

The Town of Hempstead moved for summary dismissal of the cause of action filed by the Dad on the ground that there was no proof that the Town was negligent; that its negligence created or exacerbated the dangerous condition claimed by the Dad to have caused his slip and fall or his injury. There was no proof offered that would show that the Town of Hempstead had constructive or actual notice of any dangerous condition which they negligently ignored.

The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment filed by the Town of Hempstead. A New York Injury Lawyer said the court below reasoned that the Town failed to meet its burden of proof in showing that it was entitled to the summary judgment.

The Town appealed the court’s denial of its motion for summary judgment. The only question before the Court to decide is whether or not the denial of the motion for summary judgment was properly denied.

The Court ruled that the trial court acted improperly in denying the motion for summary judgment. The Court noted that the Town submitted copies of its official records. It provided acceptable evidence in the form of deposition testimony and affidavits of its groundskeepers. It submitted performance and maintenance data of the inspection regularly conducted by its employees and the inspection and maintenance log conducted on the morning of the game.

All these pieces of evidence tend to show that the Town had no actual or constructive notice of any defect on the grounds or of the existence of any dangerous condition on the grounds. A Nassau County Personal Injury Lawyer said these pieces of evidence also show that neither the Town nor its employees created the dangerous condition or exacerbated an existing dangerous condition.

The Town also presented an affidavit of the Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation showing that from its records, the Town has not received any complaints of any defects or dangerous conditions on the ball field within three years from the date of the Dad’s supposed slip and fall.

All these pieces of evidence indubitably show that the Town has established that it is entitled to a dismissal of the complaint against it. A Manhattan Personal Injury Lawyer said the Court also held that against this prima facie case of entitlement to a dismissal, the Dad was unable to raise any issue of material fact that needs to be tried before a jury.

The Court reversed the order of denial of the motion for summary judgment and entered an order of dismissal of the complaint against the Town of Hempstead.

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