Sangaray v. W. Riv. Assoc., LLC – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Sangaray v. W. Riv. Assoc., LLC, 26 N.Y.3d 793, 28 N.Y.S.3d 652, 2016 NY Slip Op 01002, 48 N.E.3d 933 (Feb. 11, 2016), the plaintiff fell due to a height differential between two sidewalk flags of a sidewalk.

The lower of the two flags, which allegedly created the depression, was located in front two adjacent property owners: approximately 92% of the lower (or depressed) flag was located in front West River Associates LLC's property; 8% of the flag was located in front of the property owned by defendant Sandy and Rhina Mercado.

And, the spot where plaintiff fell was located on the 8% portion of the flag, located in front of the Mercados' property. West River moved for summary dismissal on the ground that the area where plaintiff fell was located entirely in front of the Mercados' property.

The Mercados opposed the motion on the ground that the majority of the defective flag was located in front of West River's property. West River's motion was granted, and affirmed by the First Department, on the ground that the record and land surveyor established that West River did not own the property that abutted the defective portion of the sidewalk on which plaintiff fell.

However, the Court of Appeals reversed, disapproving of the First and Second Department's "engrafting onto section 7-210 of a 'location requirement', without conducting any inquiry as to whether a neighboring owner's failure to comply with its statutory duties may have also been a proximate cause of the accident (id).

Though the location of the defect and the property that it abuts is significant, "that does not, however, foreclose the possibility that a neighboring property owner may also be subject to liability for failing to maintain its own abutting sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition where it appears that such failure constituted a proximate cause of the injury sustained" (id.).