Rivera v. New York City Hous. Auth – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Rivera v. New York City Hous. Auth., 239 AD2d 114, 657 N.Y.S.2d 32 (1st Dept 1997), the plaintiff was stabbed by assailants in a conspiracy to murder the plaintiff's relative.

It was unclear how the perpetrators gained access to their apartment, but the plaintiff testified that the defendant New York City Housing Authority ("NYCHA") failed to repair the building's door locks.

The First Department determined that NYCHA could not be liable for plaintiff's injuries, despite NYCHA's alleged negligence, because there was no proof as to the manner in which the assailants gained access to the premises.

Plaintiff also could not prove that NYCHA's alleged negligence was the proximate cause of his injuries. The assailants' criminal design rendered it "most unlikely that any reasonable security measures would have deterred" them, and "given the paucity of evidence of prior criminal activity on the premises . . . the criminal acts giving rise to plaintiff's injuries were unforeseeable as a matter of law." Id. at 115.

The "causal connection" between NYCHA's alleged negligence and the plaintiff's injuries was "undermined by the clear evidence that this attack was motivated by a preconceived criminal conspiracy." Id.