News from Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP


January 24, 2018

The firm successfully defended homeowners in a personal injury action arising out of a trip and fall on a public sidewalk in Richmond County. Despite evidence of post-incident remedial action, the Court granted the defendants’ motion for summary holding that the defendants were entitled to the exemption from liability contained in New York City Administrative Code 7-210(b). The defendants established that no repairs were made to the sidewalk prior to the plaintiff’s accident and the alleged defect in the sidewalk did not arise out of a special use of the sidewalk by the defendants.

January 17, 2018

A missing handrail doesn’t always mean liability. The firm was successful in having a claim against two Suffolk County homeowners dismissed. Plaintiff, a cleaning person, claimed to have been injured when she slipped and fell on defendant’s front walkway. The Court agreed with defendant’s position that water upon the walkway from the recent use of an irrigation system did not qualify as a dangerous and/or defective condition. The Court further opined that the three-step stairway in an outdoor area was not required to have a handrail pursuant to the applicable building code.

January 2, 2018

DSB won a case with an injured postal worker. The firm was successful in having a claim against a Suffolk County homeowner defendant dismissed. Plaintiff, a United States Postal Service mail carrier, was injured when she backed her mail vehicle into a utility pole in front of defendant’s home. The Court, in granting summary judgment to the defendant homeowner, found that the defendant’s placement of light reflectors on the pole did not create a duty upon the defendant to otherwise maintain the public utility pole. The Court further agreed with defendant’s position that the homeowner defendant did not take any action to make the utility pole appear as if it was out of place.

January 2, 2018

DSB taking on the EPA. The firm successfully argued a motion on behalf of the Town of Southold to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the federal government’s decision to open a new permanent disposal site for dredged material in the Long Island Sound near Fishers Island. The opening of this site could devastate the Town’s fisheries and eco-tourism as the dredge consists mostly of industrial waste from Connecticut’s contaminated river beds. In entering the lawsuit for the Town of Southold, the firm joins forces with the New York Attorney General’s Office against the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Connecticut.

December 21, 2017

Homeowners need a reasonable time to remedy snow and ice. DSB was successful in having a claim against a Suffolk County homeowner defendant dismissed. The plaintiff, a tenant at the loss location, claimed that she slipped and fell on an accumulation of ice on a rear walkway leading to her entrance to the premises. The Supreme Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding that the ice condition formed during a late evening winter weather event, and that defendants did not have a reasonable time in which to take remedial measures.

November 27, 2017

Southold Park District not liable. The firm was successful in dismissing Plaintiff’s Complaint against the Southold Park District on a pre-discovery motion for summary judgment on the issue of ownership, maintenance and control. Plaintiff had fallen on a set of stairs leading down to a beach on the Long Island Sound and sustained a torn quadriceps muscle which required surgery.

October 18, 2017

The firm successfully handled a Kings County personal injury action involving a dog bite to a three year old child. The firm’s motion for summary judgment was granted as the dog did not display any prior vicious propensities.

October 17, 2017

Homeowners don’t have to apologize for a shiny floor. DSB successfully moved to have Plaintiff’s Complaint against a Suffolk County homeowner dismissed. The Plaintiff complained that he had tripped and fallen on an interior staircase of the defendant’s home, resulting in several rib fractures. Plaintiff alleged that the polyurethane finish on the steps and/or a wet, slippery substance caused his fall. The court granted the firm’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the Complaint, finding there was no evidence that there was a negligent application of floor wax or polish, or that the defendant had notice of any dangerous condition on the stairs.

October 12, 2017

DSB was successful in dismissing plaintiff’s Complaint against the defendant on a pre-discovery motion to dismiss. In this New York County action, plaintiff allegedly sustained property damage when a pipe burst in the defendant’s apartment, located immediately above the plaintiff’s apartment. The Court granted the firm’s motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the plaintiff was not a third-party beneficiary to the lease agreement between the defendant and the property owner.

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