NY Court of Appeals Holds Landlords Cannot Avoid Liability for Snow and Ice on Sidewalks: Xiang Fu He v Troon Mgt, Inc. 2019 NY Slip Op 07643.

Author:Rogak, Lawrence N.

Lawrence N. ("Larry") Rogak has been practicing insurance law since 1981. He has defended over 23,000 lawsuits and arbitrations and has represented over 75 different insurance companies and self-insured corporations. Lawrence N. Rogak LLC is listed in Best's Recommended Insurance Attorneys, a distinction that requires written recommendations from at least 12 insurance carriers. A1981 graduateof Brooklyn Law School, Mr. Rogak has published more books and articles on insurance law than any other New York attorney in the field.

* New York's Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division and held that in New York City, out-of-possession landlords cannot avoid liability to persons injured on snowy or icy sidewalks by delegating responsibility to a tenant or snow removal company.

Section 7-210 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York imposes a nondelegable duty on certain real property owners to maintain City sidewalks abutting their land in a reasonably safe condition. Under this duty of care, a subject owner is liable for personal injury claims arising from the owner's negligent failure to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk. The Code makes no exception for out-of-possession landowners and so the Court held that the duty applies with full force notwithstanding an owner's transfer of possession to a lessee, or maintenance agreement with a private contractor.

Plaintiff Xiang Fu He sued, among others, owners of a parcel of land in New York City for personal injuries arising from a slip and fall on the sidewalk abutting the property. The complaint alleged that while employed by a nonparty lessee of the building on the property, plaintiff suffered injuries after falling on ice that had accumulated due to defendants' negligent maintenance of the abutting sidewalk, owned by the City of New York.

Supreme Court denied defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, rejecting their arguments that out-of-possession landowners are not liable for personal injuries based on negligent sidewalk maintenance, and, under the lease terms, the lessee agreed to maintain the abutting sidewalks. The Appellate Division reversed, granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, and dismissed the complaint, on the basis that the out-of-possession landowners had no contractual obligation to maintain sidewalks, and the presence of snow and ice does not constitute a significant structural or design defect for which such owners are...

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