In a decision that appeared in yesterday's edition of the New York Law Journal, a New York County (a/k/a Manhattan) trial court dismissed the trip and fall case of a woman who tripped and fell over the public sidewalk fronting the defendant's building. (Please recall that the law in New York was changed roughly 9 years ago to render abutting landowners responsible for the sidewalks fronting their property. For additional information on this topic, please see "Why Many Defective Sidewalk Cases in New York Are Doomed to Fail").
Interestingly, the judge opted to dismiss this trip and fall case for a relatively simple reason:
The plaintiff couldn't prove what actually caused her fall.
In rendering his decision, the Court cited the plaintiff's deposition testimony, which included the following:
"Q. During the time that your mother was on the ground after the accident, did you speak to your mother?
Q. Did you ask her what happened?
A. Yes, I think.
Q. What did she tell you?
A. She said she tripped?
Q. Did she tell you what she tripped on?
A. No, we didn't know."
Given this testimony, it is not at all suprising that this case was dismissed, because you can't just guess at what caused your slip or trip and fall and still prevail in New York.