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Thomas v. Sere Housing Development Fund Corporation, et al. First Department (August 2019)

September 11, 2019 • Posted By Joseph A. French • Insurance Coverage

             In a slip and fall on an interior staircase action, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed a Bronx Supreme Court Trial Judge’s decision in favor of plaintiff, and granted summary judgment to the owner.

            “Summary judgment should have been granted in this action where plaintiff alleges that he was injured when he slipped and fell on a wet substance on the interior stairs of defendants’ building.  Defendants’ superintendent offered testimony as to the janitorial schedule to be followed on a particular day.  An established reasonable cleaning routine precludes the imposition of liability (see Harrison v. New York City Tr. Auth., 94 A.D.3d 512, 514 (1st Dept. 2012)”. 

            The incident occurred outside the scheduled cleaning routine.  However, plaintiff failed to raise a factual issue that such a routine “was manifestly unreasonable so as to require altering it”.

            Moreover, “plaintiff testified that there was no wet condition on the stairs when he left the building, that upon his return a short while later he observed an alleged wet condition on the stairs, that he did not notify anyone of such condition he slipped and fell on the stairs as he was leaving the building a second time”. 

            It was established that defendants had neither actual or constructive notice of the alleged wet condition or that it existed for a sufficient length of time before the accident to “permit defendant to discover and remedy it”.

            This decision highlights the need to document the owner’s or management company’s maintenance schedule, and the client’s actual or constructive notice of the wet condition.

Joseph A. French