It is indeed rare that you come across a news story that so aptly and vividly demonstrates a principle of law. But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's audit, which found that the collapse of the brick ceiling at the New York City Transit Authority's 181st Street Station in Washington Heights nearly one year ago had been "on the brink of collapse" for over 10 years without the Transit Authority taking any corrective action, certainly fits the bill for finding the Transit Authority negligent under the doctrine of constructive notice.

In this case, the inspector general's report cited "systemic weaknesses in the adequacy of N.Y.C. Transit's station inspection programs" as the chief reason for this failure. One of the primary examples cited in his report is that despite repeated requests to repair the ceiling, which employees feared was unstable, the authorization to schedule the repair - not even to perform the repair itself - did not come until 3 years later.

As noted in "Why Many Slip and Fall On Snow & Ice Cases Fail in New York's Courts," one of the ways that the owner of a property can be held liable in negligence for defective and/or hazardous conditions on their premises is where they either knew, or, in the exercise of reasonable conduct, should have known about the existence of the defective condition, yet failed to take adequate, timely and reasonable measures to correct the condition.

I can hardly imagine a clearer case of negligence that is proven through constructive notice under New York law.
Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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