August 25, 2021

DSB successfully obtained a favorable decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming dismissal of a claim that a land owner’s constitutional rights were violated by a Town declining to recognize an alleged pre-existing non-conforming use.  The plaintiff, whose family owned several acres of mostly vacant land prior to the adoption of zoning, argued that the property had always been used to store materials and equipment related to his family’s local businesses, and thus had a grandfathered commercial storage use, and renting the property to another local business for the storage of its materials and equipment was merely a continuation of that use.  The Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals disagreed that evidence submitted by the Plaintiff showed a pre-existing non-conforming outdoor storage business, rather than merely incidental storage of the owner’s personal property, and – regardless – found that renting the property to a third party would not be a continuation of that pre-existing use if it had been found.  Plaintiff sued in federal court, arguing among other things that not recognizing a grandfathered commercial use and requiring compliance with residential zoning under these circumstances violated the Takings and Due Process Clauses, but DSB obtained a judgment dismissing the action as a matter of law, which has now been affirmed on appeal.  The decision can be found here:

August 24, 2021

DSB was successful in moving for summary judgment on behalf of a municipality on Long Island.  Plaintiff tripped and fell on a walkway located within a transfer station and sustained injuries as a result of her fall.  The Supreme Court, Suffolk County, determined that DSB established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that the municipality had enacted a prior written notice statute regarding defects on sidewalks.  DSB demonstrated that a walkway was the functional equivalent of a sidewalk; therefore, the walkway was encompassed under the prior written notice statute.  Further, the Court found that the municipality had not received the requisite prior written notice.  The Court granted DSB’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint in its entirety.

August 13, 2021

Partner Justin Rowe obtained a defense verdict in a jury trial in Queens County in a personal injury case.  In the action, Plaintiff, a home health aide for the firm’s client’s mother, claims she slipped and fell on liquid in the dining room of the client’s home.   As a result of the fall, plaintiff sustained a fractured patella, internal derangement of the knee requiring surgery, a tear in the shoulder and multiple herniations in the spine that required a series of epidural injections.  Plaintiff also claimed lost wages and the inability to return to work.  The Queens County jury returned a liability verdict in favor of the defendant finding that Plaintiff did not prove there was liquid on the floor where plaintiff fell.

July 13, 2021

DSB was successful in moving for Summary Judgment in Supreme Court, New York County on behalf of owners of a condominium unit in a high-rise building who were sued by a tenant relative to theft of jewelry from the unit.  The Court determined that the owners of the unit provided appropriate minimum security via a deadbolt lock on the single entrance to the unit, which plaintiffs had failed to engage. The court further determined that defendants were not on notice of any pattern of burglaries within the high-rise building that might have given rise to a need for greater security measures for their tenants.

July 8, 2021

Following a two-week federal jury trial, Partner Jack Shields successfully obtained a defendants’ verdict on all causes of action on behalf of an Eastern Suffolk County Town and multiple Officers and Officials.  The lawsuit arose out of the demolition of an oceanfront structure, located in a residential waterfront beach community, in a Town in the Hamptons.  By resolution, the Town Board had authorized the demolition, pursuant to the Town Code, which provides for the abatement of unsafe buildings by demolition.

Plaintiff alleged that he did not receive formal notice of the impending demolition of the house and was not provided an opportunity to be heard at a hearing, violating his right to due process.  Plaintiff claimed that the Town had his correct mailing address, but failed to use it.  Instead of mailing notice to his correct address, plaintiff alleges that the Town mailed notification to outdated addresses and an address where he never lived or owned.  He sought damages for the alleged wrongful demolition of the structure, as well as emotional trauma for the loss of the house.  After a two-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Town and all of the Officials, dismissing all of the causes of action.

June 23, 2021

DSB was successful in defending a Suffolk County school district in an appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department, in a lawsuit brought by a person who claims to have been injured on a defective sidewalk at an elementary school.  The appellate court unanimously reversed the lower court’s decision on DSB’s motion and awarded summary judgment to the school finding that the alleged condition on the sidewalk was too trivial to be actionable.  The Appellate Division dismissed Plaintiff’s Complaint in its entirety.

June 16, 2021

DSB was successful in moving for summary judgment on behalf of a homeowner who was a life tenant of a home in Brooklyn under a life estate.  The plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell on the sidewalk abutting the homeowner’s premises.  DSB argued that the homeowner exception to New York City Administrative Code § 7-210 was unaffected by the life tenancy.  The Supreme Court, Kings County, found that DSB established its prima facie entitlement to judgment and plaintiff and codefendants failed to raise a question of fact in opposition.  Accordingly, all claims by the injured Plaintiff and cross-claims by the City against the homeowner were dismissed.

June 1, 2021

DSB was successful in obtaining summary judgment on a defamation claim brought in Supreme Court, Suffolk County, against a school district arising out of the district’s internal investigation into a verbal altercation between a board of education member and an assistant football coach.  The trial court agreed with the district’s arguments that the complaint failed to adequately allege defamation, and there is no cognizable claim for negligent investigation.  The complaint against the school district was dismissed in its entirety.

April 28, 2021

DSB was successful in having a complaint dismissed against its client, a hair salon, in a claim by a  patron who allegedly fell due to a defective floormat at or near the doorway of the storefront salon.   DSB succeeded in proving that the owner of the hair salon was free from liability because the floormat was not in a dangerous condition at the time of the accident.

April 20, 2021

Supreme Court, Richmond County, granted DSB’s motion for summary judgment dismissing all claims and cross-claims against DSB’s client, a homeowner in Staten Island, for an accident that arose from a trip and fall on a sidewalk. Plaintiff and codefendants argued that despite the applicability of the homeowner’s exception under Administrative Code Section 7-210, there were questions of fact related to whether DSB’s client had notice of the defect and whether the client created the defect. DSB argued that notice is irrelevant when the homeowner has no duty under Administrative Code Section 7-210 and DSB affirmatively established on the motion that the client did not create the condition. The court agreed with DSB and dismissed the case.