The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the NYC and NYC Department of Sanitation’s motions for summary judgment in this electrocution case should not have been granted. Plaintiff, a NYC sanitation department employee was doing clean up after Hurricane Sandy when he stepped on a live power line. Plaintiff alleged he was told by his supervisor the power had been turned off. The court applied the usual analysis for municipal liability for negligence: (1) the city was engaged in a governmental function; (2) there may have been a special relationship between the city defendants and the plaintiff; (3) it does not appear that a discretionary act was involved such that governmental immunity would apply:
… [T]he City defendants met their prima facie burden of establishing that they were engaged in a governmental function at the time that the causes of action arose … . However, the City defendants failed to establish, prima facie, the absence of a special duty to the plaintiff.
In this case, the plaintiff had an employer-employee relationship with the New York City Department of Sanitation. Therefore, the plaintiff cannot be equated with a member of the general public. It appears from this record that there exists a triable issue of fact as to whether the City defendants voluntarily assumed a duty to the plaintiff beyond what was owed to the public generally that generated the plaintiff’s justifiable reliance … .
This Court has applied the doctrine of governmental immunity to an employee of the New York City Department of Sanitation, but in that case, the issue was whether the City of New York engaged in discretionary governmental actions based upon reasoned judgment in selecting equipment … . On this record, it does not appear that this case involves discretionary determinations … . Lewery v City of New York, 2021 NY Slip Op 01035, Second Dept 2-17-21