In June 2020, the Appellate Court decided a nearly old case. On March 5, 2011 a plaintiff slipped and fell while visiting a friend in the Castle Hill Houses in the Bronx. The houses are owned by defendant, New York City Housing Authority. The plaintiff slipped and fell while walking off of an elevator. Following the fall, he saw a crack in the ceiling which caused water to drip on the water below. A few weeks after the accident, the plaintiff took photographs of the defect which caused the accident. The pictures showed the paint on the ceiling cracking and discolored in the area of the defect.
The plaintiff filed his case against the owners of the building, the construction manager and the general contractor. All parties moved for summary judgment. Summary judgment is where the one side asks the judge to dismiss the case before a jury every hears the case.
The Housing Authority asked the judge to dismiss the case for two reasons. First, that the roof project was finished prior to the accident. After it was finished, they did a “cut test.” A cut test checks for leaks, and the roof passed the tests. Because of this they claimed that the plaintiff did not have any evidence that the roof was defective.
The second argument the Housing Authority made was that it did not have notice of the condition which caused the accident, if condition did exist. In any slip and fall case, the defendant must have notice. Having notice means that the defendant knew or should have known about the accident. The housing authority presented the testimony of one of the caretakers of the building. The witness presented a ledger which did not show evidence of any problems.
The construction manager also asked the judge to dismiss the case. They claimed the same thing, which was that there was no evidence of a roof leak.
The plaintiff’s Slip and Fall lawyer in the Bronx opposed these motions. He submitted his own deposition transcript. He and the person he visited testified that these leaks were visible for months following the accident. They testified that these weeks were never repaired.
The trial court, which is the first court in New York, decided against the plaintiff. The court found that the photos of the cracked and discolored paint were not enough. The court believed that the defects in the paint and ceiling were assumed to be caused by a leak, and not proven to be caused by the leak.
The Slip and Fall Lawyers in the Bronx appealed the lower court ruling. To appeal the ruling means to ask the higher court to reconsider the lower court’s ruling. The appeals court focused more on the witness statements of the people who were there on the date of the accident than the conjecture of the defense witnesses. They relied on the photos which showed a long-standing problem.
After this analysis, they ruled that the construction manager and general contractor were not responsibility for the property and did not owe a duty to the plaintiff. Therefore, they were let
out of the case. However, the defendant Housing Authority was kept in the case, as the plaintiff defeated the summary judgment motion.
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