Court Dismisses Complaint Against Defendant Contractor in action Involving Plaintiff’s Slip and Fall on Wet Sidewalk

In a decision dated September 7, 2022, the Hon. Alexander Tisch of New York County Supreme Court granted the motion for summary judgment of our client, Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc. (“YCC”), seeking a dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff alleged that she slipped and fell because of a wet condition on the sidewalk located on 33rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues in New York, New York. Specifically, there is an elevated park, owned by the City of New York, located on the northern side of 33rd Street. There is a retaining wall separating the City park from the sidewalk, and this wall includes “weep holes” to allow water to drain from the City park down onto the adjoining sidewalk. It was alleged that the water draining from the park via the “weep holes” in the retaining wall allowed the subject area of the sidewalk to become slippery thereby causing the plaintiff’s accident. In support of its motion for summary judgment, YCC came forward with evidence that it was retained by the New York City Transit Authority (“TA”) to build a retaining wall. The plans for the retaining wall that were provided to YCC included the specifications for the construction of “weep holes”, which were designed by non-party, Parsons Brinkerhoff (“PB”). After the work was completed by YCC, the TA issued a substantial completion letter to YCC signifying that the work was completed by YCC and that it “was pursuant and in compliance with the drawings and spec[ifications].” Furthermore, there were no issues with the “weep holes” and no complaints about them from the time the work was completed in 2012 until the date the substantial completion letter was issued, which was approximately six months prior to the plaintiff’s accident. As a general rule, a builder or contractor is justified in relying upon the plans and specifications which he has been contracted to follow (citations omitted). A contractor that performs its work in accordance with contract plans many not be held liable unless those plans are so patently defective as to place a contractor of ordinary prudence on notice that the project, if completed according to the plans, is potentially dangerous. (citations omitted) In granting summary judgment to YCC and dismissing plaintiff’s complaint, the Court determined that YCC met its prima facie burden of proof by submitting evidence that YCC was given specifications and drawings by PB and YCC completed the work according to those specifications, which did not result in any known dangerous condition.   

Cristina Jenkins v. City of New York et al., Index No. 157880/2015 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co., Sept. 7, 2022)

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This post was written by Sander Rothchild