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Like the Floor, Hospital’s Defense of Slip and Fall Claim Was All Wet

This March, the Supreme Court in New York County denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case of Koutsos v. New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Campus, an action to recover damages for personal injury caused in a slip and fall accident that occurred during a snowstorm in March of 2007. The plaintiff slipped on the floor of the emergency room, allegedly because the floor was wet and slippery from people tracking in snow and water from outside. The plaintiff sued the hospital for injuries to his wrist sustained in the fall.

In its motion to dismiss the case on summary judgment (where the case is dismissed by the judge before trying the case to a jury), the defendant hospital made several arguments, including the following:

  • It had no obligation to constantly maintain dry floors during inclement weather
  • It did not create the hazardous condition or have actual notice of it
  • It did not have constructive notice of the condition merely from a general awareness that it was snowing outside
  • There was no evidence that the condition existed long enough to be discovered and fixed by the hospital

The court was having none of this. The court admitted that a property owner is not obligated to keeps its floors constantly dry and free from water and snow at all times. However, property owners are required to take reasonable care of their premises, particularly the entrance through which it invites its customers. In this case, it was undisputed that it had been snowing for several hours before the accident happened. According to the hospital’s internal policies and the testimony of its own employee, it is required to lay out mats at the first signs of rain or snow and to put out wet floor sings and monitor the entrance. These facts were sufficient to deny the defendant’s motion and allow the case to be tried to a jury.

Property owners will go to great lengths to deny their liability for accidents that occur on their property. It often takes a plaintiff’s lawyer with knowledge of the law and procedure and a good deal of tenacity to make sure the case makes it to a jury where justice can be served. If you have been injured in a New York City slip and fall or other case of premises liability, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation.