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Defendants request summary judgement in a case involving injuries from exposure to lead paint – Scott v. City of New York, 2007 NY Slip Op 33484(U) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 9/27/2007)


Plaintiffs include several members of the Scott family, including 19 children, who resided at the Brooklyn Arms Hotel which is owned by defendant Fields. The Hotel was leased to Merco. In 1981 the plaintiffs were homeless. The City of New York placed them in the hotel. The plaintiffs claim that from the years 1981 through 1984, several of the Scott children were exposed to lead paint while at the hotel. The plaintiffs also claim that while they lived at the hotel there were no attempts made to correct the hazardous lead paint condition. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the plaintiffs based on negligence, recklessness, and gross negligence. In addition, the plaintiffs allege that the Housing and Maintenance Code for New York City was violated.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgement dismissing the case. The purpose of a summary judgement motion is to ask the court to dismiss the case without the case having to go to trial. The court will grant a motion for summary dismissal of a case if the defendant produces evidence that demonstrate that there are no genuine issues of material fact. This means that based on the undisputed facts, the law requires that the defendant wins.

In support of their summary judgement motion, the defendants make arguments related to not being aware of the problem, not having regular access to the premises, not having control over the premises, and not being aware that children lived there. The court determined that some of the defendants’ arguments are specious. Based on the evidence presented at the hearing on the motion, the court concluded that there were indeed questions of fact. For example, the court found that there were questions of fact with regard to whether the defendants were aware that paint was peeling the Hotel, whether they were aware that children under the age of 7 lived in the Hotel, and who had complete and exclusive control over the Hotel. Thus, on the issue of negligence, the court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgement. However, the court did grant the defendants’ summary judgement motion to the extent that the plaintiffs will not be allowed to recover claims related to the breach of warranty of habitability or their claims of nuisance.

In this case the defendants won partial summary judgement. This means that the court found that on one issue there were no facts in dispute and as a matter of law the defendants won that issue. However, as for the issue of negligence, the court found that there are issues in dispute. This does not mean that the plaintiffs won the issue of negligence. It means that the issue of negligence will go to trial and will be decided by a jury.


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