The Second Department noted that NYC abutting-property-owners are not liable for the condition of tree wells within the sidewalk. Here the city had not received notice of a defect in the tree well where plaintiff fell, therefore summary judgment was granted to the city:
A tree well does not fall within the applicable Administrative Code definition of “sidewalk” and, thus, “section 7-210 does not impose civil liability on property owners for injuries that occur in city-owned tree wells” … . * * *
“A municipality that has adopted a prior written notice law’ cannot be held liable for a defect within the scope of the law absent the requisite written notice, unless an exception to the requirement applies” … . The Court of Appeals has recognized two exceptions to this rule: (1) where the locality created the defect or hazard through an affirmative act of negligence; and (2) where a special use confers a special benefit upon the locality … . The affirmative creation exception is “limited to work by the City that immediately results in the existence of a dangerous condition” … .
In order to hold the City liable for injuries resulting from defects in tree wells in City-owned sidewalks, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the City has received prior written notice of the defect or that an exception to the prior written notice requirement applies (see Administrative Code of City of NY § 7-201[c]…). Donadio v City of New York, 2015 NY Slip Op 02093, 2nd Dept 3-18-15