NOT A "TRIVIAL DEFECT" IN TRIP-AND-FALL ACCIDENT

Court: Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York

Case: Delaney v. Town Sports International d/b/a New York Sports Club

Date: Oct. 4, 2011

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Queens Bronx; Queens injury attorney)

Comment: This trip-and-fall accident case allowed to go forward despite defense claim that the defect was "trivial" and therefore not actionable. The appeals court describes the defect (thank heaven, this is actually helpful), and decides that it is for a jury to decide if the wooden platform that plaintiff tripped on was a defect of a "trivial" nature. So, summary judgment denied to the defense. And this is a correct opinion and result.

*****************************************************

RELATED POSTS:

SHE DIES IN TRIP-AND-FALL ACCIDENT ON SIDEWALK; CASE DISMISSED BECAUSE OF "TRIVIAL DEFECT" (Posted by Brooklyn injury attorney Gary E. Rosenberg on Nov 13, 2011)

CLAIMS OF PRISONER WITH ARTIFICIAL LEG AGAINST NEW YORK STATE FOR FALL DOWN STAIRWAY FAILS WHERE NO DEFECT IN STAIRWAY IS ALLEGED (Posted by Brooklyn injury attorney Gary E. Rosenberg on Oct 17, 2011)

*****************************************************

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, the defendants appeal from so much of an order of the Supreme Court, Richmond County (Maltese, J.), dated January 25, 2011, as denied their motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed insofar as appealed from, with costs.

The plaintiff allegedly was injured when he fell over a moveable wooden platform which had been placed on the tile floor of a sauna located within the defendants' premises. The platform was 1-1/2 inches off the floor with a 1/2 inch lip or overhang, and was located approximately 9-1/2 inches from the sauna entrance door. The defendants moved for summary judgment contending, inter alia, that the platform did not constitute a defective condition or, alternatively, that any alleged defect was trivial in nature. The Supreme Court denied the motion. We affirm.

"Whether a dangerous or defective condition exists on the property of another so as to create liability depends on the circumstances of each case and is generally a question of fact for the jury" (Perez v. 655 Montauk, LLC, 81 A.D.3d 619, 619, 916 N.Y.S.2d 137; see Trincere v. County of Suffolk, 90 N.Y.2d 976, 977, 665 N.Y.S.2d 615, 688 N.E.2d 489; Vani v. County of Nassau, 77 A.D.3d 819, 909 N.Y.S.2d 742). Although some defects are trivial and, therefore, not actionable as a matter of law (see Trincere v. County of Suffolk, 90 N.Y.2d at 977, 665 N.Y.S.2d 615, 688 N.E.2d 489; Vani v. County of Nassau, 77 A.D.3d at 819, 909 N.Y.S.2d 742), " [i]n determining whether a defect is trivial as a matter of law, a court must examine all of the facts presented, including the width, depth, elevation, irregularity, and appearance of the defect, along with the time, place, and circumstances of the injury" (Perez v. 655 Montauk, LLC, 81 A.D.3d at 619-620, 916 N.Y.S.2d 137; see Trincere v. County of Suffolk, 90 N.Y.2d at 977-978, 665 N.Y.S.2d 615, 688 N.E.2d 489; Sabino v. 745 64th Realty Assoc., LLC, 77 A.D.3d 722, 909 N.Y.S.2d 482).

The defendants failed to establish their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the basis that the wooden platform did not constitute a defective condition (see Mayo v. Santis, 74 A.D.3d 470, 905 N.Y.S.2d 21; Argenio v. Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 277 A.D.2d 165, 716 N.Y.S.2d 657; see also Mishaan v. Tobias, 32 A.D.3d 1000, 821 N.Y.S.2d 640) or that any defect was trivial in nature (see Trincere v. County of Suffolk, 90 N.Y.2d 976, 665 N.Y.S.2d 615, 688 N.E.2d 489; DePascale v. E & A Constr. Corp., 74 A.D.3d 1128, 1131, 904 N.Y.S.2d 109; Richardson v. JAL Diversified Mgt., 73 A.D.3d 1012, 901 N.Y.S.2d 676; Hahn v. Wilhelm, 54 A.D.3d 896, 865 N.Y.S.2d 240). Since the movants failed to establish their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, we need not consider the sufficiency of the opposing papers (see Kimber Mfg., Inc. v. Hanzus, 56 A.D.3d 615, 868 N.Y.S.2d 94). Accordingly, the Supreme Court properly denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment (see Alvarez v. Prospect Hosp., 68 N.Y.2d 320, 508 N.Y.S.2d 923, 501 N.E.2d 572).

Categories