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NY Appeals Court Holds City Liable for Slip & Fall on Black Ice


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12/8/2011
Jonathan Cooper
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Following the Court of Appeals' ruling in San Marco v. Village/Town of Mount Kisco, 16 NY3d 111 (2010), it should come as no surprise that another plaintiff would seek to claim that a New York municipality could - and should - be held liable for a slip and fall that was caused by a fall on black ice. (For more on this decision, see "How to Prove New York City's Liability for Negligent Snow and Ice Removal").

I just didn't anticipate that it would happen so soon.

In Urban v. City of Albany, the plaintiff sustained personal injuries after falling on a patch of black ice on one of Albany's sidewalks. Predictably, the municipality moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it had no prior written notice of the defective condition. However, the plaintiff able to produce a picture of the condition taken only one day later, and was able to secure testimony from one of the municipality's employees who admitted that he had cleared that specific area from snow and ice shortly before the accident, which was augmented by a safety engineer's report averring that the municipality's improper placement of the snow caused it to re-freeze into black ice in the area of the plaintiff's fall.

Since this case was virtually identical to the San Marco case, it should come as no surprise that the appellate court reached the same result.

On the other hand, a word of caution is in order:

It seems rather clear that the chief reason that the plaintiff was able to prevail on appeal is because the plaintiff was very meticulous in compiling the underlying factual record (such as taking photographs within one day of the accident) and establishing a case for holding the municipality liable.

Category: Slip / Trip and Fall Accidents


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