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Rivera v. 2160 Realty Co., L.L.C – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Rivera v. 2160 Realty Co., L.L.C., 4 NY3d 837, 830 N.E.2d 267, 797 N.Y.S.2d 369 (2005), the Court of Appeals granted summary judgment to a defendant landlord in a case similar to the one at hand.

The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the First Department, 10 AD3d 503, 504, 781 N.Y.S.2d 645 (1st Dept 2004), which had denied summary judgment because it found that the landlord might be liable on the basis of a recurring condition, given that the landlord knew that certain tenants of the building "frequently left refuse and garbage on the stairs" and that "tenants and their guests 'constantly' 'partied' in the stairway", spilling liquids and leaving bottles - the same condition that allegedly caused the plaintiff's fall and injury.

In reversing the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals stated that the plaintiff did not raise a material issue of fact as to whether the landlord had constructive notice "on any theory" of the hazardous condition in the stairway. (Rivera, 4 NY3d at 838.)

The Court of Appeals noted that there was no evidence that "the landlord was notified of the debris that night or that the bottle was present for a sufficient period of time that defendant's employees had an opportunity to discover and remedy the problem." (Id.)

The court held that, on the evidence submitted by the parties, the dangerous condition "that caused plaintiffs fall could have been deposited there only minutes or seconds before the accident and any other conclusion would be pure speculation." (Rivera, 4 NY3d at 838-39.)