The plaintiffs in this case are Riasat Ali and Sudha Lal. The defendants in the matter are Sequins International, Inc., Happy Rock Partners, L.P., Liberty Installation Services, Ltd., and United Interior Resources, Inc. The Supreme Court of the State of New York – Civil Term part 34 in Queens County is hearing this case.
The plaintiffs in this case are seeking damages for personal injuries that were allegedly sustained by the plaintiff, Riasat Ali, on the ninth of August, 2009 at around six in the morning. The incident was a trip and fall that occurred on a public sidewalk that is adjacent to a premises located on 31st Avenue in Woodside, New York. The complaint also contains a second cause of action on behalf of Sudha Lal for loss of consortium.
The plaintiffs allege that the defendants as the owners and tenants of the premises were negligent in permitting the sidewalk to become dangerous as it was uneven, raised, and in an unsafe condition at the time of the accident. The plaintiff, who is a taxi driver, allegedly tripped on the sidewalk and suffered from a fracture to his right arm.
The plaintiff states that he was waling past the premises on a public sidewalk when he tripped and fell. He claims that the reason he tripped was due to the negligence of the defendants as the sidewalk was in poor shape.
In support of the case of Liberty Installation Services Inc. it is argued that as a tenant of the building they are not liable to a pedestrian for a defective sidewalk. As a tenant they did not repair the sidewalk, cause the defect in the sidewalk, or breach any specific ordinance or statute.
In regard to the defendant Happy Rock Partners L.P. who owns the building it is argued that the defendant has not been given the opportunity to depose the plaintiff in regard to how the accident occurred. Counsel for the defendant argues that essential facts to oppose this motion may exist.
Court Discussion and Decision
The defendants have moved for a summary judgment to dismiss the complaint. However, when reviewing the laws of New York it is found that the duty to repair a sidewalk is the responsibility of the abutting property owners. Liability is specifically imposed upon the owners of the abutting property for any injuries that are sustained as a result of their breach of duty.
In the case of Liberty as a tenant and not the owner of the property, they are only liable if they were the cause of the condition that caused the accident. Liberty has failed to offer proof that they did not cause the condition that resulted in the trip and fall. For this reason the summary judgment cannot be granted to this defendant.
In order for a summary judgment to be granted the person seeking the summary judgment must prove without a doubt that there are not triable issues of fact. In this case the defendants have failed to do this. There have been no affidavits from experts submitted in the case. The only evidence offered by Liberty was a statement from their attorney stating that they are not liable as tenants. For these reasons, the motion for summary judgment and all subsequent cross claims are denied.
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