The Second Department determined defendant property owner did not demonstrate leaves on a basement stairway constituted an open and obvious condition and did not demonstrative a lack of constructive notice of the condition in this slip and fall case. Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was properly denied:
A defendant property owner has a duty to maintain its premises in a “reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden of avoiding the risk” … . However, it does not have a duty to protect against an open and obvious condition, which, as a matter of law, is not inherently dangerous … . Whether a dangerous or defective condition exists on the property so as to give rise to liability depends on the particular circumstances of each case and is generally a question of fact for the jury … . Similarly, whether a condition is open and obvious depends on the circumstances of the case, and something that ordinarily would be readily observable may be obscured by inadequate illumination … .
Here, the defendant failed to eliminate triable issues of fact as to whether the condition that allegedly caused the plaintiff to fall was open and obvious and not inherently dangerous … . The plaintiff testified at her deposition that she fell on a two-inch thick pile of wet, matted down leaves on the seventh step of a staircase, consisting of 20 steps leading to a basement. The plaintiff further testified that the sky was overcast, that a light at the bottom of the staircase was not functioning, and that she could only see as far as the fifth step.
The defendant also failed to establish, prima facie, that it did not have constructive notice of the alleged hazardous condition … . The plaintiff testified that she fell into a pile of leaves and other debris one-foot deep at the bottom of the staircase. [the building manager] testified that he could not remember whether he had checked the subject staircase on his last weekly inspection prior to the accident and that he did not know whether the landscaper or anyone else was responsible for removing leaves from the staircase. Thus, the defendant failed to establish, prima facie, that the subject condition had not been there for a sufficient period of time for the defendant to have discovered and remedied it … . Bissett v 30 Merrick Plaza, LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 08805, Second Dept 12-20-17
NEGLIGENCE (SLIP AND FALL, PROPERTY OWNER DID NOT DEMONSTRATE LEAVES ON A STAIRWAY CONSTITUTED AN OPEN AND OBVIOUS CONDITION AND DID DEMONSTRATE A LACK OF NOTICE OF THE CONDITION, SUMMARY JUDGMENT PROPERLY DENIED (SECOND DEPT))/SLIP AND FALL (PROPERTY OWNER DID NOT DEMONSTRATE LEAVES ON A STAIRWAY CONSTITUTED AN OPEN AND OBVIOUS CONDITION AND DID DEMONSTRATE A LACK OF NOTICE OF THE CONDITION, SUMMARY JUDGMENT PROPERLY DENIED (SECOND DEPT))/OPEN AND OBVIOUS (NEGLIGENCE, SLIP AND FALL, PROPERTY OWNER DID NOT DEMONSTRATE LEAVES ON A STAIRWAY CONSTITUTED AN OPEN AND OBVIOUS CONDITION AND DID DEMONSTRATE A LACK OF NOTICE OF THE CONDITION, SUMMARY JUDGMENT PROPERLY DENIED (SECOND DEPT))