News from Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP


December 12, 2022

DSB obtained summary judgment on behalf of a commercial property owner in New York City in a personal injury action involving alleged dangerous orange plastic netting on the property.  Through discovery and investigation, we were able to establish that work performed in the area by a non-party utility company required the company to comply with NYC Parks Department Tree Protection guidelines and that the utility had installed the plastic fencing and had responsibility for it.   The Court held that the defendant neither owned, controlled nor maintained the area of plaintiff’s accident and did not place the orange netting complained of by plaintiff.

November 16, 2022

DSB moved for summary judgment on a case involving New York Labor Law claims where plaintiff fell from an A-frame ladder which was placed by Plaintiff against a house to do framing.  DSB, representing the owner of the home, filed a motion for summary judgment arguing, among other things, that the set up of the ladder in the closed position was the sole proximate cause of the accident. After DSB filed the motion, plaintiff’s counsel agreed to discontinue the action with prejudice.

September 14, 2022

DSB was successful in moving for summary judgment on behalf of a residential tenant in a personal injury action. Plaintiff, a visitor to the property, allegedly fell on the front walkway, which she asserted was covered with leaves and/or acorns. DSB moved for summary judgment because the evidence presented by Plaintiff did not definitively establish the cause of her fall. The Court agreed. Further, the Court noted that even if the plaintiff’s testimony did establish leaves and/or acorns as the cause of the fall, such materials were both open and obvious conditions that were not inherently dangerous.

September 13, 2022

DSB successfully moved for summary judgment on behalf of an East End municipality in a trip and fall lawsuit. Plaintiff was allegedly injured when she tripped and fell on a public sidewalk; the Court determined that judgment as a matter of law was warranted, dismissing the Complaint given that DSB submitted conclusive proof on the motion that the defective sidewalk was not within the borders of the municipality.

September 8, 2022

DSB successfully obtained an Order dismissing a lawsuit against an east end Town based upon negligent building inspection. Plaintiff argued that the Town’s building inspector had failed to advise them of defective work by their contractor or stop the contractor from continuing to work on their project, leading to significant losses when they had to demolish and re-build a partially completed extension. We argued, and the Court agreed, that based upon well-established tort principals a negligence claim cannot be asserted against a municipality related to its performance of a government function based upon allegedly breaching of a duty owed to the general public, but instead a plaintiff can only assert such a claim if the municipality breached a duty owed to them specifically based upon a special relationship between them and that governmental entity.

August 17, 2022

DSB was successful in moving for summary judgment on behalf of a municipality on Long Island. Plaintiffs were injured in a motor vehicle accident when their vehicle was struck by a non-party’s vehicle. Plaintiffs alleged that the municipality failed to properly delineate lines in the roadway thereby creating a hazardous condition. The Supreme Court, Suffolk County, found that DSB established its prima facie entitlement to judgment by demonstrating that temporary lines were placed in the roadway and did not proximately cause the subject accident.

August 16, 2022

In a personal injury action commenced against a Town in central Suffolk County, DSB prevailed on a motion for summary judgment in demonstrating that Plaintiff failed to establish that the Town had received prior written notice of the alleged defect on the sidewalk and further, the action was not timely commenced under the provisions of the General Municipal Law despite the tolling provision in place by the Governor’s Executive Order resulting from the pandemic.

August 4, 2022

In a personal injury law suit based upon New Your State Labor Law, an injured worked alleged serious injuries to both legs and back after a 1500 lb glass window fell from a flatbed truck on top of him. DSB first obtained a successful risk transfer for our client, the landowner, to a contractor and then obtained a stipulation of discontinuance from Plaintiff without payment as part of a multi-million dollar settlement.

August 1, 2022

The partners of Devitt Spellman Barrett, LLP are pleased to announce that, as a result of her hard work and dedication to the firm, Christi Kunzig has been named contract Partner. Ms. Kunzig has a tremendous track record of wins on motions for summary judgment and appeals on cases involving premises liability, labor law and municipal law. Ms. Kunzig joined the firm as an Associate in 2019.

July 13, 2022

DSB prevailed on appeal in a personal injury action against a commercial tenant. Plaintiff was allegedly injured when she tripped and fell over a restaurant’s sidewalk sign. The Appellate Division, Second Department, unanimously affirmed the Supreme Court, Queens County, orders dismissing plaintiff’s complaint and finding the sign to be open, obvious and not inherently dangerous as a matter of law. Accordingly, plaintiff’s claims were dismissed.

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