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Dell and Napoli Obtain Summary Judgment in Premises Liability Case

July 1, 2020

Greg Dell (Partner-New York) and Nick Napoli (Associate-White Plains/New York) obtained summary judgment in a premises liability case in the Supreme Court, Bronx County in defense of the owner of a cooperative building and its managing agent against suit brought by the plaintiff, a shareholder and resident of the building. Plaintiff alleged she fell due to the dangerous nature of exterior stairs at the subject property, sustaining an ankle fracture requiring open reduction and internal fixation, plus two months of in-patient rehabilitation. The court agreed with Greg and Nick that plaintiff’s failure to specify the cause of her fall was potentially fatal and met their prima facie showing that summary judgment was warranted. Despite plaintiff’s expert engineer’s report that the handrails were lower than the code-required height (plaintiff testified she was able to hold the handrail); that the steps were rounded, worn and retained water (plaintiff testified that she does not know if these conditions caused her fall); and photographs of a broken tile on the bottom landing (plaintiff testified she had begun to fall while on the steps higher up), the court determined that finding any of the of stair defects counsel alleged – even those corroborated by other evidence – to be a proximate cause would amount to sheer speculation where plaintiff could not articulate any specific cause. Counsel never reduced plaintiff’s settlement demand below $250,000. The action was dismissed in its entirety.

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