Slip, Trip and Fall Injury: Property owner liability for slip, trip an fall injuries is not absolute. Property owners must be allowed a reasonable amount of time to remove hazardous conditions resulting from a storm. However, the property owner cannot rely on the “storm in progress” regardless of the circumstances as the property owner found out in the case of Rijos v. Riverbay Corp., decided by the First Department appeals court on 4/2/13.
In Rijos v. Riverbay Corp., the plaintiff slipped and fell on the lobby floor of the defendant’s apartment building where a one-inch deep level of rainwater had accumulated on a day of heavy rain and strong winds. In moving for summary judgment, the defendant contended that the “storm in progress” rule relieved it of liability. In opposition, plaintiff contended that the rule did not apply because she noticed when entering the building that the lobby doors had been blown open by the wind, which allowed the flooding to occur, and that no measures had been taken by the staff to remedy the situation.
Defendant seeks to rely on the “storm in progress” doctrine to relieve itself of liability. However, the condition described by plaintiff, namely the flooding of the building’s lobby, is distinguishable from those instances where the doctrine is typically applied (compare Richardson v S.I.K. Assoc., L.P., 102 AD3d 554 [1s Dept 2013]; Hussein v New York City Tr. Auth., 266 AD2d 146 [1st Dept 1999]). Moreover, even where the doctrine is available for such indoor accidents, “all of the circumstances regarding a defendant’s maintenance efforts must be scrutinized in ascertaining whether the defendant exercised reasonable care in remedying a dangerous condition” (Pomahac v TrizecHahn 1065 Ave. of the Ams., LLC, 65 AD3d 462, 465-466 [1st Dept 2009]).
Here, defendant failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that it took reasonable measures to remedy the allegedly dangerous condition. Defendant’s witnesses did not aver that any such action was taken during their shifts, and they offered no knowledge of any action taken after their shifts ended, which was several hours before plaintiff’s fall.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a serious injury or fatality, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced slip, trip and fall injury personal injury trial lawyer at The Maurer Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights by filling out our free website “Tell Us About Your Case” review form, or phone us directly at 845- 896-5295.
Posted by Ira M. Maurer, Esq. for The Maurer Law Firm, PLLC
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