Tenant Scalded by Hot Water Due to Sudden Temperature Change Defeats Landlord's Motion to Dismiss

Case: Clindinin v. NYCHA

Court: Supreme Court, New York County

Judge: Joan A. Madden

Date: July 23, 2013

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



Landlord Loses Summary Judgment Motion Against Child Burnt by Too-Hot Water in Bathtub


Facts: Plaintiff sues his landlord because he was burned in the shower. He alleges that the building's hot water and boiler system was defective. Defendant NYCTA, the landlord, moves for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

On the day of the accident, plaintiff started the water before in his bathtub stepping into the shower, adjusting the water temperature until it felt right to him. After he stepped into the water it was so hot he jumped back, struck the shower doors and lost consciousness in the bathtub. His next memory is waking up in Harlem Hospital. He suffered 2d degree and 3d degree burns over 13 percent of his body.

NYCTA (landlord) argued: there was defective condition and, even if there was, NYCTA had no notice of it. The building superintendent denied receiving any complaints about the hot water. NYCHA relies on a case where water temperature of 140 degrees in a building was not evidence of negligence, since the tenants could control the water temperature by mixing in cold water.

Plaintiff (tenant) argued: Plaintiff and two tenants gave deposition testimony that they had complained about water that was too hot and difficult to control. One of the other tenants had an apartment in the same "line" as the plaintiff's. The facts of this case are closer to a different case, where a court found issues of fact where a plaintiff was injured when scalded due to a sudden temperature shift in the water.

Held: Issues of fact exist as to NYCHA's negligence in maintaining the hot water system in the building; the sudden change in water temperature requires a jury to determine. NYCHA's motion is denied.