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Buchelli v. City of New York

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County
Jul 12, 2010
2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 31857 (N.Y. Misc. 2010)

Opinion

110820/04.

July 12, 2010.


Recitation, as required by CPLR 2219(a), of the papers considered in the review of this motion for:________________

1 2 3 4

Papers Numbered Notice of Motion and Affidavits Annexed .............. Answering Affidavits and Cross Motion ................ Replying Affidavits .................................. Exhibits .............................................

Plaintiff commenced the instant action to recover damages for personal injuries she allegedly sustained when she tripped and fell due to a missing brick on the steps on the pedestrian bridge which extends across the FDR Drive from Waterside Plaza to 25th Street on August 4, 2003. Defendants Waterside Plaza LLC and Waterside Housing Company, Inc. (together, "Waterside") now move for summary judgment on the grounds that they did not own, maintain, control, repair or make special use of the portion of the bridge on which the accident occurred. Defendant the City of New York (the "City") cross-moves for summary judgment dismissing the complaint with respect to the City on the ground that plaintiff failed to provide the City with prior written notice as required by Administrative Code § 7-201. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motions are granted.

The relevant facts are as follows. Plaintiff tripped and fell when her foot went into a hole created by a missing brick on the steps of the pedestrian bridge leading to Waterside Plaza. There was no debris on the steps. Waterside's director of maintenance, Alhussein Sarangi, testified that the bridge is partially owned by Waterside and partially owned by the City. The location where plaintiff fell is on the side owned by the City. Mr. Sarangi further testified that Waterside is not responsible for the repair and maintenance of any City property. However, he testified that for the convenience of the tenants of Waterside Plaza, Waterside employees clean the steps and remove snow from the steps on the pedestrian bridge.

Defendant Waterside is entitled to summary judgment because it is not the owner of the property where the accident took place and did not have any responsibility to maintain or repair that property. Liability for a dangerous condition must be "predicated upon a defendant's ownership, occupancy, control, or special use of the subject property." Valmon v 4 MM Corp., 291 A.D.3d 343, 344 (1st Dept 2002). It is undisputed that Waterside does not own the part of the pedestrian bridge where the accident took place. Moreover, plaintiff's argument that Waterside assumed a duty to repair and maintain the steps is without merit. Although Waterside undertook the responsibility of snow removal and cleaning from those steps, it never repaired the steps or assumed any responsibility for structural issues on the steps. Because plaintiff's fall was caused by a structural defect and not any debris on the steps, it is irrelevant whether Waterside undertook the responsibility for cleaning the steps. Accordingly, Waterside's motion for summary judgment is granted.

Defendant City is entitled to summary judgment because it had no prior written notice of the defect as required by 7-201 of the Administrative Code. That section provides:

No civil action shall be maintained against the city for damage to property or injury to person or death sustained in consequence of any street, highway, bridge, wharf, culvert, sidewalk or crosswalk, or any part or portion of any of the foregoing including any encumbrances thereon or attachments thereto, being out of repair, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed, unless it appears that written notice of the defective, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed condition, was actually given to the commissioner of transportation or any person or department authorized by the commissioner to receive such notice, or where there was previous injury to person or property as a result of the existence of the defective, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed condition, and written notice thereof was given to a city agency, or there was written acknowledgment from the city of the defective, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed condition, and there was a failure or neglect within fifteen days after the receipt of such notice to repair or remove the defect, danger or obstruction complained of, or the place otherwise made reasonably safe.

In the instant case, the City makes out its prima facie case that it did not receive prior written notice of the defective condition. However, the City can still be held liable for injuries resulting from a defective condition that it created through an affirmative act of negligence or if the roadway was used for a "special use" which conferred a special benefit upon the City. See Oboler v. City of New York, 8 N.Y.3d 888, 889 (2007). If plaintiff claims that the City caused or created the condition, plaintiff must show that the City created the defect through an affirmative act of negligence "that immediately result[ed] in the existence of a dangerous condition." Yarborough v. City of New York, 10 N.Y.3d 726 (2008) (citations omitted); see also Bielecki v. City of New York, 14 A.D.3d 301 (1st Dept 2005). In Yarborough, the Court of Appeals held that the City should be granted summary judgment because plaintiff failed to establish that the City had negligently performed a pothole repair which immediately resulted in a dangerous condition. See 10 N.Y.3d 726.

In the instant case, plaintiff fails to raise an issue of triable fact as to whether the City caused or created the condition through an act of affirmative negligence and does not even raise the issue of "special use." She does not present any evidence that the City did any work on the steps that immediately created the alleged hazard. See Yarborough, 10 N.Y.3d 726. In contrast, the City submits the testimony of Rajendra Pandya who searched for reports regarding any defect on the subject pedestrian bridge and failed to find any. The City also submits the testimony of Julio Charlotten, a highway repairman for the Department of Transportation, whose duties included cleaning the bridge and reporting any defects. He testified that he never reported a defect nor had he ever seen the hole which caused plaintiffs fall. Plaintiff fails to submit any evidence to the contrary and therefore, fails to raise an issue of fact as to whether the City caused or created the relevant condition.

Accordingly, defendants' motions for summary judgment are granted and plaintiff's complaint is dismissed. This constitutes the decision and order of the court.


Summaries of

Buchelli v. City of New York

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County
Jul 12, 2010
2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 31857 (N.Y. Misc. 2010)
Case details for

Buchelli v. City of New York

Case Details

Full title:LUCY BUCHELLI, Plaintiff, v. THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY…

Court:Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

Date published: Jul 12, 2010

Citations

2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 31857 (N.Y. Misc. 2010)