Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Department Strictly Construes Statute To Preclude Liability Finding Against Abutting Landowner For Fall Near Metal Grate Owned By MTA

In Storper v. Kobe Club, the plaintiff tripped on a broken portion of sidewalk adjacent to a vault cover owned by the MTA. By Rule (Rules of City of New York DOT) the MTA was solely responsible for maintaining the vault and the sidewalk area extending 12 inches outward surrounding the vault. Pursuant to the Administrative Code, however, property owners abutting a sidewalk are responsible for maintenance and repair of that sidewalk. The First Department declined to find that the MTA and the landowner could be concurrently liable, holding that nothing in the Administrative Code could be read to supplant the statutory obligation of the MTA. "In reaching this result, [the Court was] guided by the principle that legislative enactments in derogation of common law, and especially those creating liabilty where none previously existed, must be strictly construed".

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