Slip and Fall in the Backyard to Perform Work in New York

In Haynie v. New York City Hous. Auth. (95 AD3d 594, 944 N.Y.S.2d 104 [1st Dept 2012], plaintiff tripped and fell as he entered defendant's backyard to perform work therein (id. at 594-595). Plaintiff sued and the court granted summary judgment in defendant's favor, holding that "here, by contrast, plaintiff testified that he knew he had to step on the concrete chunks in order to enter the backyard" (id. at 594-595). The court so held, citing Smith v. Curtis Lbr. Co. (183 AD2d 1018, 583 N.Y.S.2d 642 3d Dept 1992) and, therefore, adopting the rationale promulgated in Smith, namely, that "a defendant is not required to protect a plaintiff from his own folly" (id. at 594-595). Significantly, in Smith, the court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant holding: the complaint does not allege the usual slip and fall situation where a plaintiff is caught by surprise when confronted by a dangerous condition which results in a fall and injury. Rather, here, plaintiff was fully aware of the stacked wood pile on which, for some inexplicable reason, he elected to stand to accommodate himself in taking down wooden planks. The danger in standing on loose wood was apparent. There is no duty to warn against a condition which is readily observable (id. at 1019).