SIDEWALK ACCIDENT CASE DISMISSED BECAUSE CONSTRUCTION ON ADJOINING PROPERTY NOT CAUSALLY RELATED TO DEFECTIVE CONDITION; NO PROXIMATE CAUSE

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

Case: James Wood v. The City of New York

Date: September 4, 2012

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg

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Fact: This accident plaintiff was walking on the sidewalk when he passed a part of the sidewalk made smaller by a wooden fence and construction shed. He stepped aside to let others walk past. As he drifted back towards the curb edge, he tripped and fell on a broken sidewalk and hit his head on a New York City parking meter.

Defendants 250 East Borrower, LLC and East 49th Street Development II, LLC owned the property next to the sidewalk. They have made a motion to the court seeking summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's case against them.

Another defendant, Ocean Avenue Construction, built the wooden fence around the property as part of construction work being done there.

The property owners take the position that they are not responsible for the accident since they didn't create the cracked sidewalk and the sidewalk was not on their property.

The accident victim argues that defendants narrowed the sidewalk and encroached on the path that he had to travel and are liable for this accident.

The narrowed sidewalk may have pushed plaintiff to step to one side to allow oncoming pedestrians to pass, but too many other factors prevent a finding that the property owners' construction shed and wooden fence were related causally to plaintiff's accident and injury.

Holding: The owners/defendants are entitled to summary judgment dismissing the case against them, because there is no issue of fact as to whether the narrowed sidewalk created by theirfence caused plaintiff's accident and injury. Basically, since the broken sidewalk was not next to the owners' property, these defendants had no duty to the accident victim and their fence and construction shed did not "proximately cause" the accident.

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