New York Noncompete, Trade Secret & School Negligence Blog
This blog by the six-time published author Jonathan Cooper, is intended to educate the general public about issues of interest, particularly innovations and changes in the law, in the areas of non-compete agreements, breach of contract matters, school negligence (and/or negligent supervision), construction accidents, slip and/or trip and fall accidents, auto accidents, and, of course, defective or dangerous products.
For additional information on any of these topics, readers are encouraged to download these FREE e-books:
- To Compete or Not to Compete: The Definitive Insider's Guide to Non-Compete Agreements Under New York Law
- When Schools Fail to Protect Our Kids
- When You Don't Have a Written Agreement
- Why Most Accident Victims Do Not Recover the Full Value of Their Claim
- Why Are There So Few Successful Defective Products Lawsuits?
Although a comprehensive discussion of the answer to this question is well beyond the scope of a blog post (a more detailed discussion of some of these topics can be found in "Why There Are So Few Successful Defective Products Lawsuits") the most likely theories of recovery are the following, each of which presents its own unique challenges:
- Negligence - under this theory, the plaintiffs will have to show that the defendants failed to keep their premises safe for all foreseeable visitors (which should not be difficult in this circumstance), and that they either knew or should have known that their premises had this particular hazard, but failed to remedy the problem in a timely fashion before the accident occurred (a far more daunting thing to prove).
- Strict Liability - under this theory, the plaintiffs will need to prove that their injuries (or death) was caused by exposure to a dangerous toxin or chemical (again, not too difficult to prove in this case), and that this chemical came from particular defendants. The latter part of this burden of proof will likely be far more difficult, especially when pursuing other companies beyond the recycler at whose premises the toxic exposure occurred.
In short, although you might be inclined to think that a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit arising out of this incident would be a "slam dunk," you would be mistaken.
There are some intersections and streets that have had such a disproportionately high number of tragic car accidents and fatalities over the last several years (such as Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and Rego Park in Queens County, New York, which the local papers have dubbed the “Boulevard of Death”) that it is clear to all that these roadways are defectively and dangerously designed. Consequently, the better public policy is to hold the municipalities and states liable for these conditions; otherwise, these governmental entities will have far less incentive to assure the safety of their roads.
For additional information as to whether governmental or municipal authorities are liable for the dangerous conditions of intersections and roadways under New York law, you can read our article here.