The management of a big park in New York City leased a building and the premises adjacent to it on 31 West 71st Street. After leasing the building and the premises, the park’s management corporation decided to renovate the façade of the building. It entered into a contract with a construction firm to do the brickwork. The construction company hired a scaffolding company to put up a scaffold in front of the building so that brickwork can be done on the building.
On March 9, 2007, a man tripped and fellon a broken and cracked portion of the sidewalk in front of the building leased by the park. As the man fell, he tried to arrest his fall: he reached out to hold on the scaffolding pole which had bolts protruding from the pole. But as he was falling, his hand struck the scaffolding pole and his hand broke at the wrist and he fell on his face. For the injury he sustained on his trip and fall, he sued the Park, the management corporation of the Park, the owner of the building and the premises, the construction company laying the brickwork on the building and the company that erected the scaffolding on the sidewalk.
The injured man claimed that his trip and fall was primarily due to the sidewalk but that he was forced to walk on that portion of the sidewalk that was broken because the scaffolding obstructed the sidewalk. Although he tripped and fell on the sidewalk, the fractured bone of his hand was caused when his hand struck the scaffolding which was in his way.
After the deposition of the injured man was terminated, the Park, the management corporation of the Park, the owner of the building, the contractor and the scaffolding company all moved that the case be submitted for summary judgment. The Park moved also that the building owner, the construction company and the scaffolding company pay its attorney’s fees as it was sued along with them although it had no responsibility for the injured man’s injuries whatsoever and should not have been sued with the others.
The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint of the injured man. He appealed the dismissal.
It is evident from the testimony of the injured man during his deposition that the cause of his trip and fall was not the scaffolding but the broken sidewalk. He repeatedly admitted this. The injured man was shown a photograph of the sidewalk outside the building during his testimony on deposition and he indicated with an x mark the place where he tripped and fell. The other deponents established that the scaffolding was about 25 feet away from that broken portion of the sidewalk.
To establish a cause of action for negligence, the injured man had to demonstrate that the Park, the management corporation, the construction company and the scaffolding company all owed the plaintiff a duty of care. The injured man also needed to show that all the defendant corporations were in breach of that duty. He must also prove that the breach of the duty was the proximate cause of the injury of the man.
It can be inferred that none of the corporations that were sued owed the injured man a duty to exercise care when it put up the scaffolding. None of the corporations was in breach of any duty to the plaintiff. And even if there were a breach in the duty of care, there is no evidence that the breach of duty was the cause of the injured man’s injury.
Because it was established that the scaffolding did not cause the injury, there are no issues of fact that are left to be tried. The trial court then did not err when it allowed the case to be submitted for summary judgment. The dismissal of the case was upheld by the Supreme Court.
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